Kansas City, MO - After splitting the first two games of the 2023 NCCAA Baseball World Series, the College of the Ozarks Bobcats entered day two of the double-elimination tournament looking to stay alive. Each game from this point was win or go home and the Bobcats were not ready to pack their bags.
C of O vs University of Fort Lauderdale – Monday, May 22
Facing a hot University of Fort Lauderdale squad, the Bobcats needed to have their “A” game ready as they opened play on Monday.
The Bobcats sent Tyler Buchanan to the mound for the must win contest. Pitching around a single and a walk in the first, Buchanan brought the Bobcats to the plate. With the bats being relatively silent in the opening two games, the offence needed to come alive. Caleb Johnson started things off with a single and his courtesy runner, Seth Stamps swiped the bag at second. Spencer Greene smacked a double to left and Stamps crossed the plate for the early 1-0 Bobcat lead. The Eagles threatened again in the top of the second with a pair of hits, but Buchanan slammed the door shut to keep them off the board. The Bobcats picked up a Ty Rush single in their half of the inning but were unable to move him around. A single, and a pair of free passes had the Eagles threatening in the third and the Bobcat coaching staff made a move to the bullpen. Brody Baumann came on in relief to try to end the threat. A sacrifice fly scored the tying run, but Baumann limited the damage to one run and the Bobcats came back to the plate. A Chuck Hill single would be the extent of the offense in the bottom of the third and Baumann went back to work. A quick fourth inning brought the Cats back to pick up the lumber and they were itching to get the offense going. Spencer Greene answered the call and singled to lead off the inning. A pair of groundouts seemed to squelch the Bobcat momentum, but Trey Riley changed the tide with an RBI single to left and Ty Rush was hit by a pitch. The Eagles made a move to the bullpen, but the Bobcats weren’t finished. Blake Hultgren singled to load the bases and Chuck Hill delivered a two-RBI single to center and the Bobcats took a 4-1 lead. Caleb Johnson walked but the Eagles secured the final out and the game moved to the fifth. Baumann turned in another three-up, three-down inning and the Bobcats were feeling greedy. With two quick outs in the bottom of the fifth, Rhett Hill reached on an error. An RBI double by Trey Riley scored Hill and Ty Rush singled to extend the inning. Rush swiped second and Blake Hultgren singled to move him to third. Rush crossed the plate as Hultgren stole second and the Bobcat lead was 6-1 going to the sixth. Baumann pitched around an Eagle double in the top of the sixth and the Bobcats game back up looking for more. Walks to Caleb Johnson, Logan Daniels, and Spencer Greene were followed by a Ryan Daggs RBI single. Trey Riley came through with another RbI single and the lead was expanded to 8-1. Baumann continued to cruise and both teams were silent offensively until the bottom of the eighth. Ryan Daggs singled to start the inning and Rhett Hill ripped a double to move Daggs to third. A Trey Riley sacrifice fly added a run and Ty Rush picked up an RBI with a single to center. The game moved to the final frame with the Bobcats holding a 10-1 advantage. Another quick inning for Baumann sealed the win and the Bobcats advanced to their second final four appearance in four years.
Multiple hits were gathered by several Bobcats as Trey Riley(2B) and Ty Rush each smacked three hits. Chuck Hill, Spencer Greene(2B), Ryan Daggs, and Blake Hultgren each collected a pair of hits and Caleb Johnson and Rhett Hill(2B) had one hit each.
C of O vs Southwestern Christian University – Monday, May 22
In a double elimination tournament, pitching is a major factor, and the Bobcats entered the final four matchup against Southwestern Christian sitting in good shape. Joe Lee took the mound looking to extend the season and send the Bobcats to the championship round.
Lee pitched around a pair of walks and a double to keep the Eagles silent through the first two innings. The Bobcats returned the favor until a Ryan Daggs homerun started the bottom of the second. Trey Riley singled but the Bobcats were unable to move him around. A pair of singles and a groundout had the Eagles threatening with runners at second and third in the top of the third. An intentional walk loaded the bases, and the Bobcats nailed a runner at home trying to score on a wild pitch. With two outs, another intentional walk was followed by a fly out and Lee and the Bobcats worked their way out of a tight jam unscathed. Neither team produced any offense until the Eagles came to life in the top of the fifth. A single and a pair of homeruns brought Colin Pyatt on in relief. The Eagles loaded the bases again with a pair of walks and a single, but Pyatt worked his way out of the jam and the game moved to the bottom of the fifth tied 4-4. The Bobcats needed to respond, and Blake Hultgren did just that with a one-out triple to the gap in right-center. Chuck Hill delivered a two-run bomb over the left field fence and the Bobcats regained the lead, 6-4. Spencer Greene doubled but was left stranded and the game moved to the sixth. Neither team would generate offense again until the Eagles came to the plate in the top of the eighth. A hit by pitch, three singles, and a homerun gave the Eagles a 9-6 lead and Devin McCullough came on to pitch. McCullough retired the next two batters and the Bobcats had work to do if they were going to extend their season. Rhett Hill started the offense with a one-out double and Trey Riley moved him to third with a single. Aaron Fisher delivered an RBI single, and the Bobcats inched closer. That was all they could get, however, and it was crunch time as the game moved to the final inning. McCullough pitched around a pair of singles to hold the Eagles and the Bobcats came up needing two runs. Chuck Hill led off with a single and moved to second on a passed ball. Spencer Greene drew a one-out walk and the tying run was aboard. An error allowed Hill to score, and the Bobcats were one run away from evening things up. Rhett Hill was hit by a pitch, but the final out was recorded, and the Bobcat season came to an end as they fell, 9-8.
Chuck Hill (HR) led the way for the Bobcats with four hits while Spencer Greene (2B, HR), and Trey Riley added two each. Ryan Daggs (HR), Rhett Hill (2B), Aaron Fisher, Ty Rush, and Blake Hultgren (3B) added one hit each in the effort.
Rhett Hill was named to the NCCAA World Series All-Tournament Team and Chuck Hill, Trey Riley, Zane Kelley, and Blake Hultgren were recognized as NCCAA Scholar Athletes.
The Bobcats finished the season with a record of 44-20 and a new record for wins in a season. Several Bobcats entered the record books and left their mark during a historic run that finished one win shy of the championship round.
The Bobcats will miss seniors Joe Lee, Colin Pyatt, Seth Stamps, Devin McCullough, and Ryan Daggs, who all had solid careers and impacted the program greatly during their time as Bobcats. With a solid core of returning talent, look for the Bobcats to continue their success in the years to come