The Marshfield Baseball Club, the summer league team featuring the majority of the Marshfield varsity baseball players, played a series of tough games in Joplin over the weekend and took an uncharacteristic string of three losses.
The Marshfield Club had a promising start to the tournament on Friday evening, when they put together a 4-3 comeback win against the Midwest Expos at the Joplin High School field, but had a rocky road through weekend games, first falling 10-0 to the Arsenal Stars on Saturday morning, then suffering a three-and-a-half-inning, 15-2 mercy-rule defeat at the hands of KSCS Blaze in the afternoon and finally getting overtaken in a narrow 5-4 contest against Webb City on Sunday morning.
In their initial win on Friday, the boys in blue had a slow start, going scoreless in the first three innings of play and surrendering a trio of runs to Midwest Expos before responding.
That response came off the bats of Jackson Vestal and Landon Wilson in the bottom of the fourth. Vestal led off the half inning by zipping a line drive to center field and tagging second base, and Wilson drove him in on a sharp hit of his own.
The next inning saw the Marshfield crew catch Midwest’s lead when Thomas McIllwain popped a fly ball with bases loaded for the second out of the inning, allowing Hayden Curley to reach the plate after tagging up. Two walks later, the Marshfield runners rotated Taylor Flaro across the plate to make it a 3-3 tie.
With Ethan Grace, then Parker Dinwiddie, at the mound, the Marshfield defense managed to lock down any Expos production after the top of the fourth inning, effectively freezing the game in a stalemate until the bottom of the seventh. Marshfield had two outs and the winning run (Curley) at third when McIllwain stepped back up to the plate. With a 2-2 count, he at last made contact, sending the ball into center field and pushing in the walk-off run.
It was a satisfying ending to hard-fought game, but unfortunately for Marshfield, it was not the end of the tournament.
The next day saw the club endure a pair of crushing defeats. In the morning, the Marshfield boys spun their wheels offensively, while Arsenal Stars tacked on multiple runs in almost every inning to rise to 10-0 lead to end the game early in the fifth inning. The afternoon bout against KSCS Blaze saw an even more staggering point differential and an even earlier end to the game. After an unsteady first inning in which Marshfield gave up four runs, the boys appeared to bounce back with a strong series of hits in the top of the second that netted a pair of their own runs and a shutout defensive effort in the bottom of that same inning, but a disastrous third inning saw Blaze cycle its full lineup and claim hit after hit to climb to a 15-2 lead. After the Marshfield boys provided no answer in the top of the fourth, the game came to an abrupt end.
Sunday morning saw the Marshfield squad somewhat returned to form, but it wasn’t quite enough to claim the win. Marshfield took a one-run lead against Webb City with an RBI by Grace in the bottom of the second, and though their opponent responded with at least one run in each of the following four innings, Marshfield seemed poised to make a comeback reminiscent of their Friday victory. This time it was not enough, however.
After Vestal drove in two runs with a gorgeous left-field triple in the bottom of the sixth and recent graduate Truett Gardner moved Vestal in with a sacrifice grounder in the next at-bat, Marshfield was within one of Webb City, but a silent seventh inning from both offenses sealed the Marshfield club’s fate and handed them their third consecutive loss.