Facing temperatures in the 30's and wind gusts blowing in from right field up to 45 MPH, the College of the Ozarks baseball Bobcats earned a split Saturday in Dubuque, IA against the Clarke University Crusaders.
In game one, a sloppy first inning doomed the Bobcats. Three walks, a throwing error and a sharp single spotted the Crusaders a 3-0 lead in the first, and Clarke never looked back.
C of O didn't get on the board until the fifth inning when Tad Mitchell doubled and eventually scored on a Tyler Whiteis sacrifice fly. The Bobcats threatened in the sixth after J.D. Chadwell and Dylan Heitz singled, but the duo was stranded as Clarke held on for a 3-1 victory.
Mitchell had two doubles and Chadwell a pair of singles to lead the Bobcats, which mustered just five hits and struck out nine times against Clarke starter Michael Lopez.
In game two, Christian Vonderheide ensured the Bobcats would leave on a happy note. The sophomore hurler threw a complete game, striking out six and scattering four hits, as C of O captured a 4-2 victory and series split to win their eighth game in nine tries.
The Bobcats opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the top of the second inning. Mitchell led off with a single, Cody Hull followed by reaching on an error and then Tyler Whiteis singled to load the bases. Mitchell scored on Austin Schweiss' fielder's choice and Hull scored on Winston Rasmussen's sacrifice fly.
After the Crusaders tacked on a run in the fourth to cut the lead to 2-1, C of O manufactured a run of their own. Jacob Karlson singled, advanced to second on a bunt by Chadwell and scored on a double by Dylan Heitz. The Bobcats added an insurance run in the top of the seventh as Chadwell's two-out single to right scored Austin Schweiss.
Clarke (17-9), threatened in the bottom of the seventh inning. A leadoff single was followed by an error, putting the tying run on base with no outs. Vonderheide forced a weak fly ball to first baseman Dylan Heitz as the Crusaders tried a hit-and-run play, and Heitz easily doubled the runner off second in what was a game-deciding moment. Vonderheide struck out the final batter to end the threat and the game.
The Bobcats (21-16) -- which saw their seven-game winning streak snapped in game one-- return to action Tuesday as they travel to play 14th-ranked MidAmerica Nazarene (24-7) in Olathe, Kan.