It was a warm, early evening on Friday when the Mexico varsity boys baseball team tossed its first pitch to Fulton in North Central Missouri Conference Action.
But, three hours later when things had finally come to a close, not only was the sun beginning to set and the air beginning to chill, there were a total of 31 runs on the scoreboard. It was just one of those nights when the Bulldogs bats were living a life of their own, one that not only kept the base paths circulating with runners all night long like it was a merry-go-round, but also led to an 18-13 victory over the Hornets at home in league play.
"That might have been one of the longest varsity games I've ever been a part of. There were a lot of runs scored," said Mexico coach Keith Louder. "Offensively I thought we did a good job tonight. At the plate Fulton did throw guys at us who threw with high velocity, which is quite a change from the Boonville pitchers we saw previously in the week."
The moment Mexico really made its move was the bottom of the third inning. Down 6-4 with one out, Marquis Smith hit a ball that the Fulton shortstop let get by him, which allowed Cameron Baumgardner and Gage Worley to score and tie the game at 6-6. Shortly there after Ty Prince stepped to the plate with two outs and blasted a double to left field that drove home Smith, and then Zach Mueller doubled to centerfield to score Prince and make it and 8-6 lead for the Bulldogs.
"We did a good job of staying back and hit the ball really well. We gave up too many walks tonight," Louder said. "The good side was, what made the difference was we hit the ball and put the ball in play. We were able to come up with enough offense to counteract some of the walks and defensive mistakes that we had."
That's when the Hornet's pulled pitcher Gavin Leuther in favor of Gage Vandeloecht, who promptly walked Mexico's Quinton Baumgartner to put runners on first and second. Two wild pitches later and Mueller had scored and Quinton Baumgartner was on third when Cody Rowe smashed the only homerun of the game for the home team to make the score 11-6.
In the Bulldog's very next at-bat head coach Keith Louder really showed a lot of confidence in his team by not holding them back or playing it safe. Instead, he put his faith in his guys and let them play and what followed was a whole lot more fun and excitement that started with Smith driving home Worley with a double to right field after the latter began the stanza by getting hit with a pitch.
"Smith has pitched quite a bit for us. When we were in Hannibal a couple weeks ago he said that his arm felt a little tender, so we've backed him off because he's somebody we know we want available to us as we move down the stretch," Louder said. "We just want to make sure there isn't anything bad there. We think he's completely healthy now. We were just being cautious and making sure he was good to go down the road."
Fulton countered by switching to pitcher Nate Quick, but considering Smith had already advanced to third on a bad throw to second base, one wild pitch later and he was crossing home plate to up Mexico's advantage to 13-6. It wasn't until several batters later when Rowe stepped to the plate that the final two runs of the inning for the Bulldogs were driven home on a single to left field.
"We've got to put in some more bullpen work so we can be able to throw strikes more consistently. We can't give teams free passes as much. We have to make them put the ball in play," said Louder. "That will give our defense a chance to make plays. We'll continue to work on that side of the game. We'd also like to clean up a few things defensively. If we get that done, the bats are coming around to the point where we can be trouble for people, if we can hit the ball like we have the last couple of games."