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Bobcats Go 1-1 to Open NCCAA World Series

May 20, 2023

Chuck Hill

Kansas City, MO – Coming off a second-place finish in the NCCAA Regional Tournament a week ago, the College of the Ozarks Baseball Bobcats were set to open play in the NCCAA World Series on Friday. With rain in the area, however, the Bobcats would have to wait another day as their 6 PM game was pushed back to Saturday. The revised schedule had the #6 seed Bobcats taking on the #3 seed Patriots of Baptist Bible College at 9 AM on Saturday. Having faced each other four times in the regular season and also squaring off in the Regional Championship, the Bobcats and Patriots were familiar foes. The Bobcats were looking to avenge the loss in the regional final and the game was sure to be a highly contested battle.

C of O vs Baptist Bible College – Saturday, 9 AM
With neither team wanting to flinch first, the game quickly developed into a pitcher’s duel. The Bobcats sent Rhett Hill to the mound and the Patriots gave the ball to Jackson Vestal. The Patriots singled in the top of the first, but Hill quickly slammed the door on any Patriot hopes of an early lead. The Bobcats went down in order in their half of the inning and the Patriots returned to the plate. A hit by pitch was erased by a double play and the Bobcats came up looking for their first hit.  Rhett Hill helped himself with a single and advanced on a wild pitch. The Bobcats were unable to move him around and the game moved to the third inning with no score. Both pitchers limited opponent baserunners and neither team would log a hit until Spencer Greene ripped a single with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Greene was left stranded, and Hill went back to work for the Bobcats. BBC threatened in the fifth with a single and an error, but Hill clamped down once again to keep the Patriots off the board. The Bobcat bats remained silent in the bottom of the inning, and it appeared the Patriots would break through in the top of the sixth with a pair of singles. Hill pitched out of the jam again, however, and the Bobcats came to bat in the bottom of the sixth. With a trio of Patriot errors in the inning, Blake Hultgren and Chuck Hill combined to get the Bobcats on the board for a 1-0 lead. That was all the offense and the game moved to the seventh. A walk brought Colin Pyatt on to pitch in relief and he shut down the Patriot offense. With the game moving into the late innings, opportunities were becoming slim, and the Bobcats were looking for some insurance. Trey Riley led off the seventh with a walk and he promptly stole second. The throw to the bag slipped into center field and Riley moved to third. Blake Hultgren reached on an error and Riley scored to give the Bobcats a 2-0 lead going to the eighth. Neither team could get the offense going in the late innings and Devin McCullough came on in relief for the Bobcats. The Patriot bats were held silent, and McCullough was looking to close out the Bobcat win. A Patriot double in the top of the ninth would make things interesting but McCullough and the Bobcats closed the door and took the contest, 2-0.

Chuck Hill, Spencer Greene, Rhett Hill, and Blake Hultgren recorded hits for the Bobcats and Rhett Hill notched the win on the mound.

C of O vs Southwestern Christian University – Saturday, 6 PM
Having lost the two earlier meetings between the two teams, the Bobcats knew they would have their hands full with the #2 seed Eagles of Southwestern Christian. 

Spencer Greene was given the pitching assignment for the Bobcats and the Eagles looked to jump on the board early. A single in the top of the first provided an opportunity but Green and the Bobcats didn’t budge and retired the Eagles to close out the top of the first. The Bobcats threatened in the bottom of the inning when Chuck Hill reached on an error and moved to second on a Caleb Johnson sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch moved Hill to third, but the big hit was elusive, and the Bobcats were retired. The Eagles turned up the pressure in the second and used a single, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly to take the early 1-0 lead. A Rhett Hill triple and a walk to Ty Rush had the Bobcats threatening again, but the Eagles worked their way out of the jam and the game moved to the third. The Eagles put together a single, a double, and a walk to add a run in the third and the Bobcats were needing to answer. Both teams were silent offensively until the top of the fifth when SCU added another run to take a 3-0 lead. The Bobcats were still stymied and unable to get the offense going. Greene pitched out of a jam in the top of the sixth and Caleb Johnson crushed a ball over the left field wall for a solo homerun in the bottom of the inning to put the Cats on the board. A Ryan Daggs double kept the inning alive, and a ground out moved him to third. The Bobcats were unable to move him the next 90 feet and the runner was left stranded. The Eagles responded with a solo homerun of their own in the top of the seventh and the deficit was 4-1. The Bobcats were held down in the bottom of the inning and things got shaky in the top of the eighth. The Eagles tacked on three more runs and Weston Whiteside and Joe Lee combined to close out the inning in relief. The Bobcats needed to rally as time was running out. Chuck Hill singled to start the offense in the eighth and Caleb Johnson walked. A pick off eliminated a runner and Spencer Greene helped his own cause with a homerun over the left field fence. Now trailing 7-3, Colin Pyatt came in to hold the Eagles and get the Bobcats to the plate. Pyatt accomplished his mission, and it was do or die time for the Bobcat offense. Singles by Blake Hultgren and Chuck Hill gave the Bobcats hope, but it was short lived as the Bobcats were retired and the Eagles took the game, 7-3.

Chuck Hill led the offensive attack with three hits, while Caleb Johnson and Spencer Greene provided the big blasts with a homerun each. Ryan Daggs (2B), Rhett Hill (3B), and Andrew Hert each added a hit in the Bobcat effort.

The Bobcats will return to action Monday, May 22 at 2:30 PM when they face the University of Fort Lauderdale in an elimination game. A win in that game would set up a 6 PM contest in the tournament semifinal round.