Bears top Mountain View-Liberty on road
By Jason Hoekema
LIBERTY – After a tough goose egg on the board last week against Mansfield, Ava High School has rebounded with a win against the Eagles of Mountain View High School.
Adding-on another South Central Association Conference win improving their perfect record to 4-0 in the SCA. Meanwhile, the Bears are 9-3 overall, behind by total games in Class 3, District 11 because of weather cancellations. Leading the district is Hartville with a record of 14-4.
The Bears have been affected by a total of four cancellations this season with only the Mansfield matchup having been made-up because of the unpredictable Missouri Spring season.
The Bears had a quick 1, 2, 3 top of the first with Tom Emerich (.342 AVG, .468 OBP) and Spencer Skyles (.216 AVG, .293 OBP) striking out.
Caleb Johnson (.371 AVG, .486 OBP) got a piece of the ball on the second look, grounding-out to the Eagle pitcher, Zebulin Cornman.
The Eagles fared no better with Johnson (1.663 ERA) on the mound, striking out Coltin Weldon in the first three pitches, third caught looking. Dylan Cooper got a chunk of the ball on Johnson’s fifth pitch of the game, grounding-out to Ava second baseman Zach Richard (.750 FPCT) for the second out.
Five pitches later, Colten Foster had a swinging third strike for out three, ending the first.
Top of the second, it was 4, 5, 6 in the Ava batting order with Kayden Myers (.333 AVG, .500 OBP) walking to first at his first plate appearance and advanced to second with a steal.
Carter Campbell (.455 AVG, .486 OBP) knocked one to the Eagles’ shortstop who had enough time to make the 6-3 play for the Bears’ first out, but Myers had reached third on another steal and was 90 feet from making the first run.
Zack Miller (.219 AVG, .390 OBP) also picked up the walk on the 3-2 pitch, putting runners on the corners. An RBI double by Zach Mendel (.290 AVG, .389 OBP) into centerfield brought Myers in for the first run and pushed Miller out to third.
Mendel and Miller were able to thieve their way home putting the Bears on top, 3-0 only one out. Andrew Dalton (.148 AVG, .303 OBP) flied-out to Eagle third baseman Andrew Holden and Zach Richard (.250 AVG, .333 OBP) grounded-out to second to cap off the Bears’ early run lead.
Mountain View batter Zebulin Cornman wore the fourth pitch from Johnson and stole second to be the first Eagle to reach scoring position.
A deep ball from Andrew Holden went to right field for a base hit plus second on an error which brought Cornman around the bend for the Eagles’ first run of the game.
6, 7, and 8 in the Eagle order served for three consecutive outs, one by strikeout, to end the second inning at 3-1 Ava.
At the top of the third, Emerich wore the second pitch and took first base before a passed ball allowed him to make second. A sacrifice bunt by Skyles pushed Emerich to the third bag but wound up producing the first out at first base.
Johnson drove the ball into centerfield on the second pitch for an RBI double, making the tally 4-1. Later, a costly error by the Mountain View catcher allowed Johnson to score and Myers to advance to third on the same play.
Earlier Campbell whiffed and Miller followed with a fly ball to Liberty centerfielder Matthew Ledgerwood, stranding Myers on third.
From the fourth inning onward, the Bears picked up only two more hits and stranded runners in the fifth and six innings.
Meanwhile, the Eagles started creeping back in the fifth when Jacob Weaver made it on base from an Ava error. Johnson walked the next batter, allowing Weaver to advance one more bag and score on an error by Ava shortstop, Tom Emerich (.842 FPCT).
The Bears’ defense capitalized on the runners’ positions, picking off Weaver on his way to second on a fielder’s choice which allowed Kaden Daniels to reach the first bag. Again, working the runner’s spots, a short chopper to Emerich led to the 6-4-3 double play to close out the fifth and keep the Eagles behind, 5-2.
A pitching change quickly reversed itself after Emerich (1.077 ERA) committed an error, allowing Cornman to reach and eventually make the third run (second for Cornman) got the Eagles.
Johnson took the mound for a second time in the game, striking-out the final two Mountain View hitters on top of Andrew Holden getting stopped on his way to third to end the game.
At the end of seven, Johnson had pitched seven complete innings and took a total of nine strikeouts from Eagle hitters. On offense, the Bears made a total of 28 plate appearances, 22 of which qualified as at-bats, and scored five runs on just four hits (two singles, two doubles) but gave up seven strikeouts, two caught looking.