With an 0-2 start in pool play at the NCCAA Baseball World Series, the College of the Ozarks Bobcats had their backs to the wall. Facing Kansas Christian College, the third game of the series was a “must win” for the Bobcats if they were going to have any hope at all in advancing to the series semi-finals on Monday.
Thing looked bleak from the onset as KCC erupted for three runs in the opening frame. Using two singles, a double, and a triple, the Falcons jumped out to the early lead. The Bobcats were able to chip away at the lead in the second inning off a Chandler Tidwell single, an Andrew Martinez double, and a Falcon throwing error. 3-1 Falcons after two. Ryan Daggs settled in on the mound for the Bobcats and held the Falcon bats in check. The bottom of the third sparked some fireworks from the Bobcat bats and the race was on. Zach Ford led off with his second consecutive, hit by pitch. Caleb Johnson was then hit by a pitch, followed by a Max Pulley single. Chandler Tidwell drew a bases loaded RBI walk to open the scoring in the third. With the Bobcats trailing by a run, Ryan Daggs stepped in the box with the bases jammed. Four pitches later and a 2-2 count set the stage for the Bobcats to provide some fireworks of their own. Daggs drilled a go-ahead grand slam over the left field fence to give the Bobcats a 6-3 lead. After an Andrew Martinez, one out walk, Seth Stamps reached on a fielder’s choice and Martinez was out at second base. A single off the bat of Chuck Hill moved Stamps around and an error and wild pitch later, the Bobcats had put seven more runs on the board and led 8-3. A strike out, a single, and a double play would be all the offense in the Falcon fourth. The Bobcats, on the other hand, were not done. Caleb Johnson led off the fourth with a walk and Max Pulley moved him to third with a double. Johnson scored on a wild pitch and Max Pulley came across the plate on a Chandler Tidwell sacrifice fly to center. After four full innings, the Bobcats were up 10-3. The Falcons went down quietly in the fifth, but the bobcat offense continued to pour it on. Andrew Martinez led off the inning with a hit by pitch. Seth Stamps ripped a single into left and Chuck Hill laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners. Caleb Johnson then singled to left to drive in a run, 9-4 Bobcats. Max Pulley followed with a single to center for two more RBI’s. Chandler Tidwell singled again but the scoring string was stopped mand the Bobcats led 14-3. Kansas Christian, however, was not ready to go away. With four singles, an error, and a walk, the Falcons made a game out of it. They scored five runs and cut the Bobcat lead to 14-8. The Bobcats were able to get Andrew Martinez on with a hit by pitch followed by a Zach Ford single. Caleb Johnson walked but the Bobcats were unable to add to their run total and headed to the top of the seventh, leading 14-8. The Bobcat defense took care of the rest and kept the hopes alive for the Bobcats and preserved the 14-8 win.
The Bobcats were led by Max Pulley’s 3-4 performance and Chandler Tidwell’s 2-2 day. The big blow came off the bat of Ryan Daggs with the grand slam home run in the third. Zach Ford, Caleb Johnson, Andrew Martinez, Seth Stamps, and Chuck Hill each added a base hit to the cause.
With their hopes still alive for a semi-final appearance, the Bobcats were set to play the Eagles of Toccoa Falls College. The Eagles were one of the hottest teams in the series and the Bobcats had their work cut out for them. The Bobcats wasted no time setting the tone. Zach Ford led off the game with a single. A hit by pitch to Max Pulley and an RBI single by Chandler Tidwell put the Bobcats up 1-0 in the first. Colin Pyatt took the mound for the Bobcats and was greeted with a single followed by a walk. A flyout to center and a 5-4-3 double play would get him out of the inning. Lane McLevain muscled up a double in the second and Zach Ford was hit by a pitch, but the offense couldn’t drive them in. Things got out of hand in the Eagle’s second inning. Two walks and a hit by pitch loaded the bases for the eagles. A run scored on a fielder’s choice, throw to the plate, and the Eagles followed with a sacrifice fly, two singles, a double, and a walk. When the dust had settled, the Eagles had opened up a 5-1 lead. Tyler Buchanan came on to pitch in relief and both teams’ bats cooled off. The Bobcats could only get a Lane McLevain single and a couple of walks in the fourth and fifth innings, but Buchanan continued to hold the Eagles bats in check. With time running out and outs getting slim, The Bobcats mounted a rally in the sixth. With two outs, Ryan Daggs got things started with a single. Andrew Martinez walked, and Lane Mclevain, Rhett Hill, and Zach Ford followed with singles. The Bobcats had cut the lead to one, 5-4 but the Eagles were determined to finish off the game and earn their way into the semi-finals. Using two singles and a walk, the Eagles added an insurance run and led 6-4 going into the top of the seventh. The Bobcat bats had run out of steam and were shut down in order. The Eagles took the contest, 6-4, and the Bobcat’s season came to a close.
Lane McLevain led the offensive attack for the Bobcats going 3-3. Zach Ford went 2-2 while Neco Lopez, Chandler Tidwell, Ryan Daggs, and Rhett Hill each added a hit.
The Bobcats endured a very tough schedule this Spring and will look to keep building for success as they approach the 2021-22 season.