Author: Joey Yelenick

Late Heroics from Bowles, Royer Lift Blue Caps over Bobcats

NORMAL, IL – Gameday 20 of KCL action kicked off on July 3 with the Blue Caps and Bobcats fighting to take first place, as the Bobcats held a half-game lead on the Caps. 

Bradley shortstop Jackson Smith led things off for the Bobcats with a ground-rule double over the left field wall. Blue Cap pitcher Jack Helms struck out two of his next three batters to end the inning, holding the Bobcats scoreless in the first. 

Bobcat second baseman Ryan Quinlan led off the second with a single and steal, getting another runner in scoring position with none out. Helms coaxed a trio of ground balls to end the inning without a score, including a nice play by Blue Cap shortstop John Shuey as he scooped it to third to tag out Quinlan. 

Smith got his second hit of the game in the third, where he hit a bloop single to shallow left field. However, a poor attempt to dive on the ball by the Caps’ left fielder got Smith all the way around to third on the play. Bennett Summers hit a line drive on the ground to second that scored Smith, as the Bobcats took a one-run lead. 

After recording a single in each of the first two innings, the Blue Caps singled three times in the third, as Riley Hendren and John Shuey both lined singles out to right field, with Shuey’s going over the right fielder’s head as Hendren advanced to third base. Caleb Royer tied the game up with a sacrifice fly to center, advancing Shuey to second. Nolan Bowles came through with two outs in the frame and hit a single to shallow left field that scored Shuey, giving the Caps a 2-1 lead. 

The Bobcats looked to tie it up in the fourth as Quinlan drew a seven-pitch walk and got him into scoring position with a bloop single from Hayden Stork, where a pair of Blue Cap outfielders lost track of the ball. Hendren, the Blue Cap center fielder immediately made up for the mishap with a spectacular diving grab, a ball that likely would have scored two runs if it had dropped.

With the Blue Caps still leading 2-1 in the fifth, the Bobcats threatened to take the lead, loading the bases before recording an out. Clay Gadbois stepped up and tied the game for the Bobcats, but grounded into a double play. A foul pop-up to the catcher ended the half-inning with both sides tied at two.

John Shuey hit a two-out double in the bottom of the fifth, but a following ground ball right to the first baseman ended the frame. 

An uneventful sixth inning from both sides took it to the seventh, where the Bobcats were able to get a pair of runners in scoring position with just one out, thanks to a double lined to right field from Kaileb Hackman. With two gone, Stork smashed a single out to left that gave the left fielder some trouble as he struggled on the grab, and both runners scored on the hit/error. 

The dramatics wouldn’t end there, as the Blue Caps walked a pair on in the bottom of the seventh, and both runners advanced to second and third tagging up on a fly ball. Down to their last chance, Nolan Bowles came in clutch and lasered the first pitch he saw to left, scoring both runners on the basepaths and tying the game at four apiece. AJ Weller flew out to left to end the inning, which meant a home run derby was to decide the winner. 

After the Bobcats failed to hit a home run in their first attempt, Caleb Royer delivered the game-winning bomb for the Blue Caps, ensuring his team took first place in the KCL standings with just seven more to play. 

Eberle, Vanderheydt Shut Down Merchants in Ground Sloths Victory

NORMAL, IL – Ground Sloth pitching dominated in the second game of Wednesday’s KCL action at the Corn Crib, as Ethan Eberle and Devon Vanderheydt combined to strike out 13 Merchant batters in a dominant 8-1 victory. 

The Merchants started the nightcap by getting on the board early, capitalizing on a pair of Ground Sloth errors in the first. The Merchants took a one-nothing lead in the first as Ashton Horchem came home on the second error of the game. Sloth starter Ethan Eberle, a Louisville Cardinal commit, struck out three batters in the first, pitching the first of three dominant innings. 

Things moved quickly until the bottom of the second, where the Ground Sloths drew three walks, and hit safely twice to take the lead. Will Applegate tied it up with a double, driving in Carter Selk. A bases-loaded groundout later in the inning scored Nate Cooley, who gave the Sloths a 2-1 lead that they kept for the rest of the game. 

Eberle pitched his final frame in the third, a one-two-three inning with two strikeouts. 

The Sloths’ offense came to life in the third, as all nine hitters came up to bat in the inning. Cooley hit an RBI single to increase the lead to two, and Applegate then drove in one despite grounding into a double play. With two outs, the Sloths put three more ducks on the pond and made the Merchants pay, as Blake Crancer sent a double to left that cleared up the basepaths and gave the Ground Sloths a 7-1 lead. 

Maryville University pitcher Braden Vanderheydt came in relief for Eberle and pitched a great three and a third innings, striking out six while keeping the Merchants off the scoreboard. 

Mateo Casillas scored on a fielder’s choice in the fourth to make it an 8-1 game for the Ground Sloths, which ended up being the final score. The Merchants put players in scoring position in the fifth, sixth, and seventh, but failed to bring anyone home. 

Hitter of the Day: Nolan Bowles, Blue Caps, Catcher, Grace College

2-4, single, double, 3 runs batted in

Pitcher of the Day: Ethan Eberle, Ground Sloths, Normal Community (Louisville) 

3 innings pitched, 7 strikeouts, 1 hit allowed, 1 walk allowed, 0 earned runs

Leave a Comment