The Rolla baseball team (18-5-1, 7-1 OC) hosted Hillcrest and Parkview for an Ozark Conference doubleheader on Tuesday, May 7. The Bulldogs celebrated their seniors between games and they had plenty to celebrate, as a 3-0 win over Hillcrest and an 11-1 win over Parkview set up a chance to play Glendale for the conference title on Wednesday.
Rolla's first game against Hillcrest was sparked by excellent pitching. Blayne Yarger had his first start of the season and pitched 1.1 innings as he's eased into the rotation. He was pulled in the second after allowing a double and a walk, but Treyton Ruth came in and forced a double play ball to get out of the inning. Ruth then went on to pitch through the fourth, allowing no hits and striking out three batters to earn the win.
Ruth had the chance to earn the win, because the Rolla bats got their first run across the plate in the fourth. After singles from seniors Joel Simmons and Will Bolyard, Blaize Klossner poked an RBI single to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
After Rolla jumped out in front, Trey Quick came in and earned a three inning save with an excellent performance. He allowed just one hit and one walk in three innings, striking out six batters in the process.
The Bulldog bats come through with some insurance runs in the sixth on a pair of passed balls from Hillcrest. Klossner and senior Jonathan Reese scored the two additional runs on the way to a 3-0 win. Rolla had nine hits in the game with Bolyard and Klossner each had two hits in the win, while Zeke Arthur, Brett Gonzalez, Davie Pound, Simmons and Yarger each added base knocks in the win.
After a somewhat quiet game against Hillcrest, the bats woke up big time against Parkview. Pound, one of 10 Rolla seniors, got things going by launching a three run shot to center with two outs in the second inning. Noah Doyle then drove in fellow senior Gonzalez to give Rolla a 4-0 lead through the second inning.
Rolla added two more runs in the fourth on a sac fly from Doyle, before Levi Loughridge was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to push the lead to 6-0. Parkview scored their lone run of the game on an error in the fifth, but Rolla came back in the bottom of the frame with three more runs. Doyle was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in the first run, before Loughridge walked with the bases juiced to get the second run across. Tristen O'Neal then scored on a passed ball to stretch the Rolla lead to 9-1.
The Bulldogs finished the game off in the sixth when the first four batters of the inning walked to score the first run, before a passed ball allowed the 11th and final run to score in the mercy run 11-1 win.
The pitching was again excellent for Rolla, as senior Jeremiah Ruth pitched an absolute gem. He allowed just one hit and a walk, while striking out five batters in the complete game win. Ruth allowed one unearned run in the contest.
"It's been a fun week for the seniors so far and this puts us at number two for everything I've seen record-wise. In 2008 they had 21 wins and for these seniors to come out and do what they did tonight and get a sweep against two tough conference teams and now tomorrow sets the stage," said head coach Marty Hauck. "We can tie the all-time school record with wins and at the same point in time we can take an Ozark Conference title and it's been a long time since we've done that. I'm proud of the seniors, but we're not done yet."
Rolla played Glendale for the conference title on Wednesday, but those results were not available at press time. Come back tomorrow for the full story on that contest.
The Bulldog seniors really had the chance to shine on their Senior Night. Pound put on a show with three hits across the two games, three RBI, three runs scored and three walks to lead the charge. O'Neal collected three base knocks in game two, scoring once, while Doyle drove in three runs. Rolla had excellent pitching from Ruth, another senior, as every senior chipped in on their way to two wins.
"You can't really put it into words," said Hauck about what his seniors have meant to the program. "These kids have worked hard. They've worked in the offseason, their offseason has been the whole key to the success, as they play on very talented teams in the offseason and it shows when they come to our season. The key is to get them together and obviously they're dancing on the field right now, so obviously they're coming together."
After the Ozark Conference game on Wednesday, Districts are right around the corner. The Bulldogs open Districts against Springfield Central, who will join the Ozark Conference next season, on Saturday, May 12. A win sets up a rematch with Lebanon, who the Bulldogs beat 8-6 in their first conference game of the season, on Monday.