College of the Ozarks Bobcat Baseball traveled to Springdale, Arkansas to face the Royals of Ecclesia College in a three-game series on March 22nd and 23rd.
The Bobcats entered the series 15-16 after splitting a two-game series with NAIA #13 Oklahoma Wesleyan University earlier in the week. After three hard-fought battles with the Royals, the Bobcats came up short, ending their stint in Springdale with one win and two losses.
Due to incoming weather, the game schedule for the weekend was revised to feature a doubleheader on Friday and a single game on Saturday.
In Friday afternoon’s opener of the twin bill, the Bobcats struggled to find their rhythm. The Royals did damage early, putting up two runs in the first and another in each of the next two innings to record a 4-1 victory. C of O scattered four hits, led by freshman Ryan Daggs, who went 2-3 at the plate with one run scored. Kole Kelley and Bryce Burtless added one hit apiece, and Max Pulley recorded the lone RBI. Senior pitcher Collan Thrasher suffered the loss after pitching a complete game. He allowed three earned runs on 8 hits, striking out 4 batters and walking two.
In the nightcap, the Bobcats allowed Ecclesia to jump out to an early 2-0 lead through the first three innings. However, the Bobcat bats came alive in the top of the fourth, scoring 3 runs to grab their first lead of the series. Ecclesia would strike back in the bottom of the fifth with 5 runs to take a 7-3 lead. After a scoreless sixth inning, the Bobcats rallied in the top of the seventh, scoring 3 runs but falling just short of the comeback, losing 7-6. C of O posted 10 hits, led by senior Jay Kaufman and sophomore Bryce Burtless, each of whom went 2-2 with one run scored. Daggs also gathered two hits, going 2-4 with 1 run scored and 1 RBI, while Kelley was 2-4 with 1 run scored and 2 RBI. Junior Kyle Giefer suffered the loss, after pitching 4.2 innings and giving up six earned runs on seven hits.
Saturday found the Bobcats returning to the win column, as they defeated the Royals 7-1. C of O once again outhit their opponents, tallying 11 hits to Ecclesia’s six. Leading the way was sophomore right fielder Pulley, who went 3-4 with 1 RBI. Junior catcher Westin Gann was quite productive, going 2-3 at the plate with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI. Also gathering multiple hits for the Bobcats were Bryce Burtless (2-3, 1 run scored), Kaufman (2-3, 1 RBI), and Kole Kelley (2-4, 1 run scored). Kaufman also did his job on the mound, picking up the complete-game win. He allowed one earned run on 6 hits, struck out 6 batters, and gave up only one walk.
The Bobcats will take a short hiatus before heading on the road to take on the Spartans of Missouri Baptist University (17-10) in St. Louis, Mo. on April 5-6.