The College of the Ozarks Baseball Bobcats opened the 2022 season Friday as they hosted Mount Mercy University out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. One week removed from the originally scheduled start date, the Bobcats had all the snow off the field and a 60-degree day for baseball.
Game 1 – Mount Mercy – 10, C of O – 3
Rhett Hill took the mound for the Bobcat is the season opener and threw a solid five innings. Hill gave up four runs striking out six on the day.
Mount Mercy wasted no time getting on the board using a walk and a home run to jump out to an early 2-0 lead. Hill worked his way around another walk and the Bobcats made their way to the plate. A walk to Ryan Daggs and another to Rhett Hill gave the Bobcats a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the first but a ground out to third ended the threat and sent Hill back to the mound. The Mustangs added another run in the top of the second on a walk, a single and an RBI double and the lead was up to 3-1 with the Bobcats coming up to bat. Chuck Hill led off the inning with a double to get the Bobcat offense going. A pair of strikeouts put the scoring opportunity in jeopardy when freshman, Isaiah Smith, came through with his first collegiate hit. Hill came around third to score to give Smith the RBI and the Bobcats cut the lead to 3-1. Smith promptly stole second but was stranded when a strikeout ended the inning. Mount Mercy added another run in the third to go up 4-1 and the Bobcats needed to respond. The Mustang pitcher continued to keep the Bobcats off balance and Hill settled in to do the same. Neither team would cross the plate until the top of the sixth inning. Riley Loyd came on in relief of Hill in the sixth and made quick work of the first two Mustang hitters he faced. The third out was elusive and after a pair of walks, Colin Pyatt stepped on the hill in relief. A Mustang single drove in a pair of runs before Pyatt recorded the final out with an infield pop-up. Ryan Daggs singled to start the Bobcat sixth, but a double play and a strikeout ended the inning. The Mustangs worked the Bobcat pitchers for a single and a couple of walks in the seventh before a Mustang grand slam made the score 10-1. The Bobcats recorded the final out and came to the plate looking for a rally. Chandler Tidwell got things started with a triple to right and Chuck Hill picked up an RBI with a single. Hill advanced to third on a ground out by Blake Hultgren and Isaiah Smith picked up his second RBI of the game with a single. That was all the offense the Bobcats could muster, and the Mustangs took game one 10-3.
Isaiah Smith went three for three with a pair of RBI’s and Chuck Hill was perfect going two for two, driving in one. Chandler Tidwell, Ryan Daggs, and Caleb Johnson each had a hit in the cause for the Bobcats.
Game 2 – Mount Mercy 12, C of O - 1
Tyler Buchanan took the hill for the Bobcats in game two. Buchanan pitched around a double and a single in the first inning to keep the Mustangs scoreless with the Bobcats coming to bat. Spencer Greene opened the offense with a one out double, but a pair of strikeouts stranded him at second. Buchanan pitched out of a jam in the second after an error and a walk put the mustangs in scoring position. Inducing a line out to center and recording a strike out to end the inning, the Bobcats came to bat with no score. Rhett Hill reached on an error to start the Bobcat second and Chandler Tidwell walked to give the Bobcats a scoring threat. The Mustang pitcher slammed the door shut, however, with a pair of strikeouts and a ground out to escape the inning unscathed. The Mustangs broke through on the scoreboard in the third with a solo homerun with two outs. Buchanan buckled down to retire the next Mustang batter and the game moved to the bottom of the third, 1-0 Mustangs. The Bobcats went down in order and the Mustangs duplicated their third inning with a two out solo homerun and the next batter being retired. The Bobcats picked up singles by Daggs and Cadan Kauffman in the fourth but could not get the big hit to bring in the runs. The Mustangs added another run in the fifth, but the game was still manageable for the Bobcats. Isaiah Smith led off the Bobcat fifth with a single and one out later, a Chuck Hill double drove him in. Trailing 3-1, the Bobcats just needed to continue to chip away. A line drive to center ended the Bobcat fifth and time was beginning to run out. Things got shaky for the Bobcats in the sixth and the Mustangs capitalized on a couple of miscues to score four more runs. A walk and a hit by pitch was all the offense for the Cats in the sixth and the Mustangs came up looking for more insurance. The strike zone became elusive in the seventh and the Mustangs were able to tack on five more runs. The Bobcats went quietly in the seventh and Mount Mercy took game two 12-1.
Spencer Greene (2B), Chuck Hill, Ryan Daggs, Cadan Kauffman, and Isaiah Smith each recorded a hit for the Bobcats.
Day two of the series was canceled due to cold temperatures and wind chills.
The Bobcats will be back in action Tuesday as they host Baptist Bible College out of Springfield. Game times are scheduled for 12:00 and 2:00 at Coach Bob Smith Field.