The Rolla baseball team (8-7, 3-2 OC) hosted Camdenton for an Ozark Conference matchup on Tuesday, April 16. The Bulldog offense was consistent all night long, scoring in every inning but one on their way to a 7-5 conference victory.
Rolla didn't take long to get on the board against the Lakers, striking for the first run in the bottom of the first. Cole Daniels led off the game with a walk, before Collin Woods reached on a fielder's choice. Woods was able to advance all the way to third on a pair of wild pitches, before Parker Yoakum smacked an RBI double to put the Bulldogs out in front. Rolla added to that lead in the second when Ethan Skyles led off the inning with a double. He advanced to third on a sac bunt, before Brady Yarger stroked a ball out to left center for their second run of the game.
Camdenton came back in the third, leading off the inning with a walk, following by a single by Garrett Stamper. Another walk loaded the bases, before Rolla starter Treyton Ruth was able to get a strikeout. Drake Miller hit a grounder to deep second after the strikeout and was able to reach on an infield single, which brought in a run. The Lakers then ran into some issues on the bases, as two different runners got caught between bases after the infield single. The second rundown came between home and third, which ended the inning as Stamper was tagged out. Camdenton was forced to settle for just one run, as the inning ended with Rolla out in front 2-1.
The third inning was the lone scoreless frame for Rolla, but they came back with their biggest offensive inning in the third. After a leadoff single by Drew Johnson, Skyles smacked a single to put runners on the corners. Brady Yarger was able to drive in his second run of the game as he dropped down a bunt single. The throw went wild at first, so Yarger and Skyles found themselves on second and third with one out. Ethan Stephenson then hit a grounder to short, which gave the Laker shortstop some trouble. Both runners were able to score on the error, which proved to be crucial runs as the Bulldogs extended their lead to 5-1.
Camdenton was able chip away at that lead a little bit in the top of the fifth, when Luke Lockhart smacked a two out triple. Dylan Thompson followed with a single of his own to cut the deficit to 5-2.
The bottom of the fifth inning saw even more craziness on the base-paths, this time from Rolla. Woods opened the inning with a triple, before Blayne Yarger drew a walk. Yarger then took off for second base, but he pulled up mid-way through his steal after the throw went down to second. Woods then tried to score on the throw, but got caught in his own rundown between third and home. Woods was tagged out, but he lasted long enough for Yarger to make it to third. Rolla was able to recover when Johnson smacked an RBI double, pushing their lead to 6-2.
Camdenton made things interesting as they came into the sixth. After an out to open the inning, Brandon Pasley hit a flyball to right that dropped for a base knock. Andrew DiBello followed with a double, before Ruth got a strikeout for the second out of the inning. Ruth needed just one more out to get out of the inning, but Camdenton had other plans. Lockhart hit a single out to left, which brought home both runners. He then made it to second on the throw home, which opened the door for another RBI dingle from Stamper. Ruth was able to get a strikeout to end the inning, but not before Camdenton cut the score to 6-5.
The Bulldogs came back in the bottom of the frame to add an insurance run. Brady Yarger was hit by a pitch to open the inning, before advancing to second on a wild pitch. A groundout by Stephenson put Yarger on third and he was able to quickly score on another wild pitch. Rolla went into the seventh leading 7-5 and turned to Blayne Yarger for the save. He came in and struck out the side to finish off a 7-5 Ozark Conference win for the Bulldogs.
Ruth earned the win for Rolla, allowing five earned runs on nine hits and three walks in six innings of work. He also struck out nine batters. His stat line looks a little bit more rough than his pitching performance actually was, because a couple of plays landing differently would've left him with a lot few runs allowed. Head coach Kenny Hohe appreciated his performance on the mound.
"With him being the anchor and the ace of our staff, if I can get six innings out of him and go into the seventh with a lead, I'll take it every time," said the Rolla head coach. "It just allows for the rest of the week to go smooth. We've got everyone available from here on out. I know we only have one more game this week, but it's a big one with Jeff City tomorrow."
Offensively, Brady Yarger and Stephenson each drove in two runs. Yarger added a pair of hits and scored twice. Yoakum and Johnson each had RBI doubles for the Bulldogs, while Skyles had a pair of base knocks and scored twice in the victory. As a team, Rolla scored seven runs on eight hits and four walks. Coach Hohe liked how his team responded to adversity all afternoon to come away with the win.
"Not every call is going to go our way, not every play, not every break, so the ability to respond was big," said coach Hohe. "The sixth inning got hairy for us, a couple of things didn't go our way, but we held on to lead, we did a great job of adding an insurance run and then Blayne came in throwing gas and it was over there."
This was an important win for the Bulldogs because on top of being another conference win, it's also a victory over a District opponent. Coach Hohe hopes that it gives his Bulldogs some nice momentum as they went on to face another District opponent in Jeff City on Tuesday. Results from that contest were not available at press time.
"Just to get back to .500 was big and now to be over .500 and to beat a couple of District opponents in a row and beat a couple of conference opponents in a row," said Hohe. "We've got Jeff City tomorrow and that's a huge game for us and then next week we get right back into it with two more conference games."
Rolla will come back after Easter with home games against Central on Tuesday and Glendale on Thursday for a pair of OC games.