The Neosho Wildcats rattled the bats for the first nine runs en route to a 9-2 victory Tuesday over perennial Kansas small school powerhouse St. Mary’s Colgan at Roy B. Shaver Stadium.
“Our kids did a great job today of not only putting the bat on the ball,” Neosho head coach Danny Powers said, “but hitting the ball hard. We had guys in scoring position and if we were getting out, it was a deep sac fly. Our kids did a good job of not missing pitches today. Their kids, for the most part, threw strikes, they weren’t overpowering ours by any means, but you’ve still got to make good solid contact and hit it.”
Neosho’s nine runs on nine hits were all scored over a three-inning period — four in the second, three in the third, and two in the fourth — and the Wildcats’ two college signees proved big in the victory.
Northwest Missouri recruit Brett Cook sparked the Wildcats with a towering two-run home run and he picked up a third RBI with a sacrifice fly.
“Brett, knock on wood, I think has had a hit in about every game it seems like for us,” Powers said. “We knew he’d be big for us in the middle of our lineup and so far this year, he’s cut his strikeouts down and he’s hitting the ball hard. If he can continue to do that, he’s going to have a very good senior year before he heads to Northwest.”
State Fair recruit Jared Stephens again proved strong on the mound and he earned the victory with one run allowed (earned) on three hits over four innings. Stephens, who struck out 15 his previous time out in a tough 2-1 loss against McDonald County, finished with eight strikeouts. Stephens pitched into the fifth, unable to get an out as he surrendered three straight hits to start.
“We wanted to limit Jared’s pitches anyway,” Powers said. “Just because we have Joplin coming up. He’s been close to 100 (pitches) his first two outings, which he’s in good enough shape we know that he can handle it. He was perfect through four, but it was one of those blessings in disguise that he gave up three hits (to start the fifth). He had enough run support that we felt good about taking him out of the game there to save his arm.”
Neosho evened its record at 3-3 entering Friday’s road game against Rogers Heritage (Arkansas). The Wildcats also have a Saturday road game scheduled against two-time defending Class 4 state champion Aurora.
Next week brings the Central Ozark Conference opener against Class 5, District 12 rival Joplin at home Monday. The Wildcats then have pool games in the Mickey Mantle Classic against Miami on Thursday at Mickey Mantle Field and Sequoyah on Friday at Joe Becker Stadium. Neosho still enters as the reigning Mantle Classic Triple Crown Division champion, by virtue of last year’s championship games being snowed out.
On Tuesday, A.C. Marion and Cook led Neosho with two hits and Kaden King, Cole Seward, Tre Letts, Weston Durman, and Nakota Bach rounded out the Wildcats’ nine-hit attack with one each. Seward, Letts, and Bach each doubled. Cook and courtesy runner Kaden Dickens each scored two runs and Seward, Letts, Durman, Mason Ray, and Bach each crossed home plate once.
Colgan (1-1) threw five different pitchers at Neosho with starter Parker Wydick lasting the longest at two innings. The Panthers hurt themselves by committing seven errors.
Meanwhile, Neosho received three innings of solid relief from Payton Ezell. Ezell allowed one run (earned) on two hits over two innings with three strikeouts and two walks. Kelley finished off Colgan in the seventh and surrendered one hit.