SPRINGDALE, Ark. — The Neosho Wildcats scored at least one run in each inning to come away with a 9-4 victory Monday over the Locust Grove (Oklahoma) Pirates at Arvest Ballpark, home of the Kansas City Royals’ Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
Neosho scored two runs in the first, one in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth, two in the fifth, and one in the sixth en route to a 9-1 lead. Locust Grove pushed across three in the seventh.
The Wildcats collected nine runs, eight hits, and seven walks against four Locust Grove pitchers and benefited from seven Locust Grove errors.
Neosho improved to 2-1 on the early season entering Thursday’s road contest against district rival McDonald County.
“If you get guys on base and take advantage of some errors, you’re going to win a lot of games,” Neosho head coach Danny Powers said. “We’d love to score every inning. We know that’s not the case, but we’ve done a pretty good job in our first three games of getting guys on base to at least have the opportunity to score. If we keep doing that, we’ll be alright.”
Both teams enjoyed their opportunity to play on a field that once hosted former Natural players Lorenzo Cain, Aaron Crow, Alex Gordon, Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer, Kila Ka’aihue, Whit Merrifield, Logan Moon (a former Missouri Southern player), Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Bubba Starling, and the late Yordano Ventura.
“A lot of kids aren’t going to get the opportunity,” Powers said. “They’re going to watch people play in these stadiums all the time. It’s a different experience to come down here and get to do it. Just the way it sounded on the field, it sounds different. There’s a little bit of an echo, so the mitt pops every time a pitch comes in. Makes our kid sound like they’re throwing 95. They know they’re not going to get a bad hop and they don’t have to clean up the field afterwards, so it’s just a great experience all-around. We appreciate the Naturals for putting on this promotion for everybody, because it’s a great thing to have our kids play at just an outstanding park and don’t have to worry about all the things we do in high school, like picking up the bases, reclaying the mound, and all that stuff.”
Powers reached Double-A himself in 2007 in the Minnesota Twins organization. The Twins selected Powers in the eighth round of the 2005 MLB Draft out of Central Missouri.
Gage Kelley earned the victory, allowing one run (unearned) on four hits over 4 1/3 innings with six strikeouts and three walks. Kaden King struck out two and surrendered no hits during 1 2/3 innings of relief work. All three runs scored against Payton Ezell in the seventh were unearned and Weston Durman came on to pick up the game’s final out with a strikeout.
Offensively, A.C. Marion and Tre Letts led the way for the Wildcats with a combined five hits, Marion three and Letts two. Brett Cook, Durman, and Ezell each had one hit. Durman and Ray each drove in two runs and Durman scored twice. Durman, Ezell, and Ray each stole bases.