In a summer league tournament in northwest Arkansas featuring teams from all over the Midwest, the Marshfield Baseball Club took two wins across five games over the weekend.
Thursday afternoon, in the first matchup of the 18U division of the Chad Wolfe Classic tournament, Marshfield was overtaken by Midwest Prospects for a 6-2 loss. In that contest, the Marshfield boys knotted up with Midwest at two runs in the bottom of the fourth, but came apart in the final two innings of the game. Their opponent put up two unanswered runs in both the sixth and seventh to take the game.
The boys bounced back the following morning, though, pounding out a 10-4 victories against a team out of Poplar Bluff, the PB Vipers. Marshfield trailed 3-0 after the second inning of that match, but came out hard in the third, generating six runs off the bats of Hayden Curley, Taylor Flaro, Dustin Mitchell, Jackson Vestal, Thomas McIllwain and Landon Wilson. Walks by Ethan Grace and Parker Dinwiddie added to the slew of hits to effectively bury the Vipers.
Though the Poplar Bluff squad answered with another run in the bottom of the third, it was to be their last mark on the scoreboard, and Marshfield piled on in the top of the fifth with a two-run double by Wilson and RBIs by McIllwain and Wilson in the top of the seventh.
Both batters came away with sparkling stat lines, McIllwain going four for four on the day with a trio of RBIs while Wilson batted in four of the team’s 10 runs across three at-bats. At the mound, Grace held it down for the first five innings and Wilson closed the game out.
In the afternoon, the bats that had been so alert for Marshfield against the Vipers took a snooze against Sandlot, a squad out of Oklahoma. In that contest, Marshfield got snowed under early, with Sandlot generating three runs in the first, one in the second and two in the third to make it 6-0.
The fourth inning finally saw some hits for the boys in blue, and they came from none other than McIllwain and Wilson. The one run they were able to create was hardly enough to catch up, though, and Sandlot ended the game early with a string of scores in the top of the fifth. Marshfield suffered an 11-1 defeat.
The next day saw Marshfield take a nine-point shutout loss against KC Elite, but Sunday morning found them on the delivering end of a shutout to Colorado Baseball Academy out of Golden, Colorado.
In Marshfield head coach Will Pate’s assessment of the final game victory, it came down to exceptional fielding. “We played phenomenal defense,” he said, noting, “We were actually in some situations where they had runners in scoring positions, and we were just able to play good defense and work our way out of it. That was by far our best defensive effort throughout the weekend.”
Recent Marshfield graduate and Evangel University prospect Parker Dinwiddie was an instrumental part of that defensive effort, according to Pate. Dinwiddie, positioned at third and shortstop, was responsible for at least one ground out every inning of the game.
Of course, scoring 13 runs can be a nice supplement to a strong defensive effort. Nearly every athlete in Marshfield’s lineup notched hit, with Dinwiddie going three for three at the plate and Vestal hitting two out of three to bat in four of the day’s runs.
Pate attributes much of that offensive production to his team’s ability to make the most of the opportunities a team gives them, but he also recognizes it can be tough to find the cracks in some teams’ armor.
“The biggest thing in baseball is being ready to capitalize on other people’s mistakes, and that was the game where we really did it,” he said. “Unfortunately, more teams don’t make those mistakes, especially when you go to these big tournaments and a lot of these teams are so hand-picked.”