College of the Ozarks baseball opened up their 2017 season this week going 2-1 against a tough Central Baptist College team that posted a 45-16 record last season and returned a large portion of their 2016 lineup. The Cats picked up their two victories thanks to solid hitting and strong pitching performances.
Thrasher Throws a Complete Game to Pick Up First Win of 2017
Game one saw the Cats take an opening day victory, 3-1, over the Mustangs as sophomore right-hander Collan Thrasher tossed a complete game, giving up only one run on 3 hits, walking none, and striking out 7 batters. Thrasher gave up his sole run in the fourth inning and proceeded to shut down the Mustang batters to close out the game. At the plate, C of O senior Austin Schweiss went 2-for-2 with one RBI, and senior catcher Winston Rasmussen was 2-for-3, scoring 2 runs. Second baseman Tyler Whiteis posted a 1-for-2 day at the plate, scoring the remaining Bobcat run. Collin Nord was the losing pitcher, allowing 3 runs on 8 Bobcat hits in his five-innings.
Heitz Hits Season's First Homer but Bobcats Fall 6-3
In game two, the Bobcats took an early lead, scoring once in the first and twice in the third. The Cats held a 3-1 lead heading into the sixth on a solid pitching performance by right-hander Wyatt Saltarelli through five. The Mustangs put together some hits in the sixth to take a 4-3 advantage. CBC followed up with two runs in the 7th and the Mustangs were able to hold the Cats scoreless, handing the Bobcats their first loss on the season, 6-3. Sophomore Dylan Heitz tagged the Cats’ first home run of the season, taking a Ben Madison pitch over the right field wall. Heitz and Rasmussen each went 2-for-3 at the plate, as reliever Jacob Karlson incurred the loss.
Stephens Pitches 9-inning Complete Game Shutout
The final game of the series saw the Bobcats and Mustangs knotted up at zero until the bottom of the 4th, when the Cats scored three runs beginning with a hit by Schweiss followed by J.D. Chadwell reaching on an error. Jesse Fisher tripled to score two, and J. D. Payne singled to score Fisher. The Cats added another 2 runs in the fifth thanks to two Mustang errors, and the Cats closed out a 5-0 win. Senior Alex Stephens pitched a complete game 9-inning shutout for the Bobcats, giving up no runs on six hits, walking none, and striking out 5.
The Bobcats will continue their homestand next weekend, playing four games against Doane University. The first double header will be Friday, Feb. 10, beginning at 1 PM, and the second will be held on Saturday, Feb. 11, beginning at Noon.