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Baseball Bobcats Battle NAIA #2 Georgia Gwinnett; Fall in Conference Tournament

May 06, 2024

#15 Rhett Hill

#24 Hunter Lewis

Lawrenceville, GA – The College of the Ozarks Baseball Bobcats made the long trip to Georgia Gwinnett College last week for the Continental Athletic Conference Tournament. The Bobcats were looking for a conference championship which would punch their ticket to the NAIA National Tournament. To make that happen, the Bobcats would have to taken down Fisher College, from Boston, Massachusetts and then the No. 2 team in the NAIA rankings, Georgia Gwinnett College.

C of O vs Fisher College – Saturday, May 4
The Bobcats opened the tournament as the number two seed and would face the three seed, Falcons of Fisher College. Brody Baumann drew the pitching assignment for the Bobcats in the opening game.

Baumann pitched around a leadoff double and a walk in the first to keep the Falcons off the board and bringing the Bobcats to the plate. The Cats went down in order and the game moved to the second. Bammann returned the favor with a quick second inning before the Bobcats opened the scoring in the bottom half. Hunter Lewis ripped a one-out single to start the offense, stole second, and advanced to third on a passed ball. Charlie Parker walked, and Lewis was out at home on a fielder’s choice. Titus Atkins singled to drive in Parker and the Cats took a 1-0 lead to the third. A Falcon single and a double off the bat of Rhett Hill would be all the offense in the third. A double and a single had the Falcons threatening in the top of the fourth, but Baumann closed the door to maintain the 1-0 lead. The Bobcats could only manage a Caleb Johnson walk in their half and the game moved to the fifth. The Falcons picked up a run in the top to tie the score and the Bobcats needed to respond. A Trey Riley single was not enough, and the Falcons came up looking to take the lead. Baumann ended those thoughts with a quick three up-three down inning to get the Cats back in the dugout. Rhett Hill singled to start the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. Jake Leeker singled and both runners advanced on a wild pitch to return the lead to the Bobcats. Leeker stole third and Hunter Lewis kept the line moving with an RBI single to score Leeker. Caleb Johnson drew a walk, but that is all the Bobcats could get and they took a 3-1 lead to the seventh. Not to be outdone, the Falcons battled back with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to tie the score, 3-3. The tug of war was in full effect and the Bobcats were not giving in. A one out walk to Rhett Hill was followed by a Leeker single and Hunter Lewis gave the Bobcats a 4-3 lead with an RBI single. A walk to Charlie Parker loaded the bases and Caleb Johnson delivered the clutch two-RBI single to bump the lead to 6-3. The final out was recorded, and the Cats were six outs away from the opening round win. Weston Whiteside came on to pitch in relief and the Falcons refused to go down without a fight. A run with two outs in the eighth cut the lead to 6-4 and Spencer Greene came in to take over the pitching duties. Greene slammed the door shut and the Bobcats came up looking for some insurance. With two outs in the inning, Lance Strahan doubled to right. Jake Leeker promptly pounded an RBI single to score Strahan, increasing the lead to 7-4. That was all the Bobcats could get and the Falcons were down to their final three outs. A trio of singles made things interesting and cut the Bobcat lead to 7-5. A sacrifice fly added another run before Greene shut down the rally with a strike out to end the game.

Hunter Lewis and Jake Leeker led the way for the Bobcat offense with three hits each. Ty Rush (2B), Rhett Hill, Lance Strahan (2B), Caleb Johnson, Titus Atkins, and Trey Riley each had a hit in the win.

C of O vs Georgia Gwinnett College – Sunday, May 5
The Bobcats were set to face the top seed and No. 2 ranked team in the NAIA in game two of the tournament. Georgia Gwinnett College would be a handful for the Bobcats, and they knew they had their work cut out for them.
Rhett Hill would be on the bump for the Bobcats and the offense came to life in the first to give him a 1-0 lead to work with. Ty Rush reached on an error and Rhett Hill helped himself with an RBI double to put the Cats on top. Hill then pitched around a pair of singles in the bottom of the frame to maintain the slim advantage. The bats for both teams were silent in the second and a Chuck Hill single was all the offense in the third. Hunter Lewis produced a single in the top of the fourth and the Grizzlies came to life in the bottom half. A double, a pair of walks, a hit by pitch, and a single got the GGC offence going, and the Bobcats trailed 2-1 after four. The Cats went down quietly in the fifth with only a Spencer Greene walk. The Grizzlies added single runs in their half of the fifth and sixth while the Bobcat bats were stymied. A Caleb Johnson blast over the left field wall in the top of the seventh gave the Bobcats a boost, but time was getting short. Trailing 4-2, Hill continued to hold his own on the mound, retiring the Grizzlies in order in the seventh. Down to their final six outs, the Bobcats were limited to a Hunter Lewis single in the eighth. The Grizzlies added an insurance run in the bottom half and the home team was three outs away from taking the contest. A Titus Atkins single was the extent of the Bobcat offense in the ninth and the Grizzlies took the contest 5-2.

The Bobcats held their own and competed well with one of the top teams in the country, proving they have a lot to be proud of.

Hunter Lewis led the offense with a pair of hits and Chuck Hill, Rhett Hill, Caleb Johnson, and Titus Atkins each contributed a hit.

C of O vs Fisher College – Sunday, May 5
After the hard-fought loss to the No. 2 team in the country, the Bobcats were faced with an elimination game against their earlier opponent, the Falcons of Fisher College. The primary challenge would be from the mental standpoint. Bouncing back after a game filled with adrenaline and tough competition is a tall task and the Bobcats had a short time to regroup. The Falcons were coming off a win, so they had momentum on their side from the first pitch. The Bobcats would need to overcome the obstacles if they were going to win and advance.

The Bobcats stepped to the plate first and quickly went down in order. Andrew Dalton received the pitching assignment for the Cats and the Falcons capitalized on their momentum. A pair of singles and a home run gave the Falcons an early 3-0 lead heading to the second. Hunter Lewis continued his hot hitting and singled following a Jake Leeker walk. That was all the offense for the Bobcats and the Falcons returned to the plate. Neither team would make noise with the bats until the bottom of the third when the Falcons added a run with a walk and a double. Aaron Gross came on to pitch and he minimized the damage with a double play ball, but the Bobcats were trailing 4-0. Another three up-three down inning for the Cats gave way to another pair of runs by the Falcons in the fourth and Tyler Buchanan took over the pitching duties. The Bobcat bats were stymied, and the Falcons added yet another run in the sixth to take a 7-0 lead. Buchanan held the Falcons in check, but the Bobcat bats remained silent. A Trey Riley single in the eighth gave the Bobcats a little boost, but it was short-lived. The Bobcats were down to their final three outs and a Chuck Hill single was followed by a single off the bat of Ty Rush. While things were looking up, the next three batters went down in order and Fisher took the contest 7-0. 

Trey Riley led the offense with a pair of hits and Chuck Hill, Ty Rush, and Hunter Lewis added one hit each.

Hunter Lewis and Rhett Hill were named to the Continental Athletic Conference all Tournament Team for their performance over the weekend.

The Bobcats now wait to see if they qualify for the NCCAA World Series.