By Josh Hall
Springfield, Mo. — After losing seven starters from last year’s club, the West Plains baseball team is trying to figure out where it stacks up this season.
So far, the Zizzers have been pleased with the results they’ve seen.
West Plains continued its winning ways with a new group of faces after scoring three runs in the top of the seventh inning to claim a 6-4 victory against a veteran Glendale team on Tuesday while improving to 3-1 on the season.
“We don’t really know what we have yet,” said coach Zeb Wallace, now in his first season at the helm at West Plains. “Honestly, we’re still trying to get to know who they are a little bit.”
But Wallace knows one thing is certain about the Zizzers through the first four games of the season. They don’t give up.
Trailing, 4-3, entering the top of the seventh, West Plains didn’t look like a team with eight new starters. The Zizzers put together five hits to earn the come-from-behind victory while handing the Falcons (2-1) their first loss of the season.
Senior Evan Washington delivered the tying run with an RBI single and Billy Holloway followed with a two-run double with two outs to give the Zizzers a two-run cushion entering the bottom of the inning. That’s all the insurance West Plains needed.
“We look to those guys for leadership,” Wallace said. “Those were two guys that weren’t even starting last year.”
Despite that lack of experience at the varsity level, Holloway, one of four seniors for the Zizzers, was up to the challenge.
“I was anticipating getting our team ahead,” Holloway said. “That’s what happened. I took the opportunity and I just hit it. I went up there and did what I had to do for us to come out with a win.”
Dylan Dunbar allowed one hit and didn’t issue a run in the sixth and seventh innings to earn the win for West Plains. The left-handed junior was also 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs and made a diving catch at the warning track in right field to end the second inning.
Dunbar believes the best is yet to come for the Zizzers.
“This team has a lot of potential,” he said. “We won this game, we played good this game, but we’ll be even better by the end of the season.”
Glendale (2-1) also has high expectations this season. The Falcons return 12 seniors and 15 lettermen from last year’s team that won 20 games.
Glendale coach Mike Snodgrass was quick to credit West Plains for the Zizzers’ effort at the plate in the seventh inning.
“I thought they did a nice job there,” Snodgrass said. “I didn’t think we gave it to them. I thought they took it. They had a nice approach and they didn’t try to do too much.”
Glendale junior Ethan Paschke, used primarily as a late-inning reliever last season, allowed two earned runs and four hits with six strikeouts and one walk in four innings of work.
Senior Conner Brunett threw two scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth innings, before issuing back-to-back singles to leadoff the seventh. Noah Lachnit came on with no outs in the seventh to close the game out for the Falcons.
That’s also when the Zizzers’ bats started to heat up.
“Tip your cap to (West Plains),” Snodgrass said. “I don’t think our pitchers gave it to them, those guys just got the job done.”
West Plains starting pitcher Andrew Wheeler went five innings, allowing four runs and 10 hits while striking out six. The junior was also responsible for stranding seven Glendale baserunners in the first five frames.
The biggest blow for the Falcons came in the third inning when they had the bases loaded with no outs. Wheeler got the next batter to strike out, before inducing a double play to escape the inning unscathed.
“Wheeler is a guy that is going to challenge you,” Wallace said. “He has as many tools on the baseball team that you’ll find. He’s a competitor. You know what you’re going to get from him.”
West Plains 6, Glendale 4
West Plains – 2-0-0-1-0-0-3—6
Glendale – 3-0-0-1-0-0-0—4
Dylan Dunbar (W)
Conner Burnett (L)
West Plains – Camdon Murphy (2-4, RBI); Austin Wood (2-3); Dylan Dunbar (3-4, 2 RBI); Billy Holloway 2-4, 2 RBI);
Glendale – Trip Horsey (2-4, RBI); Gavin Burlew (2-4 (2B), 2 RBI); Eli Wells (3-4); Noah Lachnit (2-3)