BRANSON — Graham Funderburk’s single in the ninth gave the Branson Pirates a 5-4 victory Monday over the Neosho Wildcats at Pirate Park.
Neosho junior Weston Durman walked Kelly Henson leading off the inning, Jackson Miller bunted Henson into scoring position, and then Henson scored on Funderburk’s hit to right. Henson beat Jared Stephens’ throw home.
Neosho built a 4-2 lead after scoring two runs in the second and third, then Branson plated two runs in the sixth for a tie score. Branson scored two in the second.
The Wildcats started the scoring with a big bang — Brett Cook doubled to start it off and then fellow senior Tre Letts hit a home run to center. Cook and Letts both delivered on two strikes.
Branson tied it up at 2 on a Brady Brashers 6-3 groundout and then a Neosho error. This inning featured a leadoff walk and two errors, a formula for disaster for the defensive team.
The Wildcats answered with the bats with a Cole Seward RBI single and a Letts RBI double. Mason Ray led off with a single and A.C. Marion also hit a single during an inning where Neosho accounted for four of its seven hits. The Wildcats left the bases loaded with any further damage than two runs.
Kaden King hit a single leading off the fourth and that was the final Neosho hit.
The Wildcats were retired in order in the fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth, and only two runners reached the rest of the way for the visitors. King was hit by a pitch and Seward worked a walk, both in the seventh; King was stranded at third.
Branson collected four of its six hits in the sixth with RBI singles by Carter Jenkins and Jackson Miller.
Durman took the loss and he allowed one run (earned) on one hit — just that Funderburk single — with one strikeout and three walks over 1 1/3 innings. Stephens pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings and finished with four strikeouts and no walks. Gage Kelley surrendered two runs (both earned) on three hits in the sixth. Ray took a no-decision and he allowed two runs (both unearned) on one hit with five strikeouts and two walks over five innings.
Braden Pannell earned the victory and he pitched three scoreless innings with no hits allowed, one hit batter, and one walk. Pannell struck out one. Brashers took a no-decision and he allowed four runs (all earned) on seven hits with seven strikeouts and no walks over six innings.
Neosho dropped to 9-12 overall and 4-3 COC, and the Wildcats were originally scheduled to return to action Tuesday against Webb City, their final in-district opponent this regular season.
Neosho and Branson were originally scheduled to play last Thursday, but were rained out.
Branson improved to 6-16 overall and 1-6 COC.