Following three wins in a row that required late comebacks, the Hannibal baseball team rolled to an 18-4 victory at Fulton on Thursday night.
Ian Hatton delivered a plain and simple message to the Hannibal baseball team before its North Central Missouri Conference game at Fulton on Thursday night.
The gist of his speech?
Don't make winning harder than it already is.
“That was the big topic of discussion before the game,” the Pirates coach said. “We needed to get the offense rolling early for long innings offensively and throw strikes for some quick innings defensively. Our guys really responded today. We were attacking and making it as easy as we could going forward.”
After three victories in a row that required late comebacks, Hannibal (7-3, 7-2 NCMC) rolled over the Hornets 18-4 in five innings to record its seventh consecutive victory.
Every member of Hannibal's starting lineup reached base at least once during the rout.
“We got great production 1 through 9 today,” Hatton said. “We did a good job being patient and taking what was given to us. When we had the opportunity, we put some good swings on the ball.”
Wyatt Waelder doubled on the first pitch he saw in the top of the first inning to drive home Will Whitaker for the initial run.
Chase Kirby scored on an error later in the frame to make it 2-0.
Hannibal proceeded to erupt for nine runs in the second to completely blow the game open.
Kirby, Waelder and Evan Sanders each produced run-scoring hits in the second as the Pirates benefited from four walks, two errors, a hit batter and a balk that kept the rally alive.
Sanders, batting No. 8 in the order as the designated hitter, finished 2-for-2 with two runs and two RBIs.
No. 7 hitter Lucas Brown hit an RBI double in the third to put Hannibal ahead 12-2.
“The bottom of our lineup did a great job putting the ball in play and getting on,” Hatton said.
Hannibal tacked four more runs on the board in the fourth.
Gabe Worthington lined an RBI single to center for an 11-run lead before Colton Brown drew a bases-loaded walk. Worthington then came home via an error. Sanders hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Kirby to make it 16-2.
In the fifth, Payton Phillips hit an RBI single before Quentin Cooper drove home the Pirates' final tally of the day with a sacrifice fly.
Colton Brown pitched the first four innings for Hannibal to earn the win.
The senior allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits.
“Colton threw great today,” Hatton said. “He did a pretty good job of getting ahead of hitters and a great job pitching to contact and getting the Fulton batters to swing at some pitches that were tough. I'm really happy with where he's at, especially after having a week off.”
Braden Schlueter shut the door by pitching a scoreless fifth to enforce the mercy rule.
Hannibal remains in the thick of the NCMC race with three conference games remaining, trailing only Boonville in the current standings.
“We don't look two or three games ahead, but we do know the end goal is still in sight and very attainable,” Hatton said of winning the conference championship. “We take it one game at a time, and today was step one again toward that. That's the way we see it.”