Mexico dodges raindrops, Eldon runners in 7-6 win

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 3/25/23

Neither rain nor wind nor cold nor Mustangs prevented Mexico from winning on Friday night.

Mexico vs Eldon Photo Gallery

The Bulldogs delivered a 7-6 win on their home field while playing as …

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Mexico dodges raindrops, Eldon runners in 7-6 win

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Neither rain nor wind nor cold nor Mustangs prevented Mexico from winning on Friday night.

Mexico vs Eldon Photo Gallery

The Bulldogs delivered a 7-6 win on their home field while playing as the road team against Eldon after being initially scheduled to play at the Mustangs’ place. Mexico (3-0) made plays at the right moments, including a relay play to cut down a runner at home plate to end the sixth inning and cling to a one-run lead.

Head coach Daniel McCarty said weather conditions were always a concern, given the game was moved to Mexico’s turf field and then started about 15 minutes earlier than the 5 p.m. first pitch. McCarty said they continued to play a factor as the rain and chilling temperatures made it harder on pitchers and defenders to grip the baseball and maneuver around the field.

“If it was raining like this, they would’ve just called it if there was a winner,” McCarty said. “If it was tied, they would keep on going unless there was lightning.”

Eldon (0-4) made sure all seven innings would be played as batters lost their grip more frequently in the fifth inning, sending bats flying down the line. Landon Hilderman’s bat stuck to his hands as he struck the ball into shallow right field for a two-RBI hit with two outs in the fifth inning, making it 6-4. 

The Mustangs had already used their legs to score runs as they beat a play at the plate in a three-run first inning and did it again in the fifth inning as Jacob Bishop scored on a delayed steal of home to tie the game at 6 while Jude Rader distracted the defense at first base. 

“Hats off to their ballclub on playing small ball like that,” McCarty said. “We have our bunt coverages in for that, but I didn’t give them a heads up notice that was coming.”

Still, Mexico came through on defense when it mattered in the sixth inning after Austin Maxwell was able to score on a wild pitch in the top of the frame. Maxwell advanced on a bunt from Landyn Kleinsorge before Eldon’s Kasen Bashore bounced a couple pitches.

Maxwell then advanced the ball to the plate after Hunter Hees’ solid liner was out of reach of the Mexico outfield. Not wasting any time, the ball was thrown into the infield before being specially delivered to catcher Ty Sims, who applied the inning-ending tag to Bashore at the plate.

“He grabbed the ball, threw it into second at the relay and threw it home for the tag at home,” McCarty said. “We practice that almost day-in, day-out about covering up, backing up, and doing the small things right in baseball.”

The play of Mexico’s senior left fielder Matt McCurdy didn’t go unnoticed to McCarty, including a diving catch earlier in the game and a catch near the fence in the seventh inning. McCarty said the outfield play was solid across the board. 

“He made two great plays in left field that I think saved the ballgame, especially the last inning,” McCarty said. “He’s a senior, he stepped up, and he was in the right spot.”

McCarty said he likes how the Bulldogs fought through adversity, starting with the team’s No. 1 pitcher Jack Wilburn struggling by allowing three hits along with three runs in the first inning. McCarty said Mexico wanted to see how far Wilburn could go, but it was alright as the third game of the week brought in several others who needed some work. 

Jaydon Eldridge pitched 1⅓ after Wilburn, then Sam Ryan covered 2⅓ in his first varsity innings of the season, and finally, Kleinsorge pitched 2⅓ shutout innings while allowing two hits.

“In this type of night, we started to collaborate and use multiple pitchers,” McCarty said. “That way, we could keep the Eldon offense full. We needed to mix it up.”

Kleinsorge was on the mound during the relay play in the sixth inning. He said McCurdy’s catches and Maxwell’s relay throw from second base are the type of plays that are the difference in close contests like Friday as Eldon refused to go away. 

Speaking for all of the pitchers of the night, Kleinsorge said the rain and cold makes it harder to grip the baseball, meaning arsenals are limited.

“I was mainly able to hang on to the four-seam fastball,” Kleinsorge said. “That was about it. That’s all I had tonight. The curveball would slip out, the slider would slide out and it was just not working.”

At the plate, Maxwell finished 1-for-2 with three RBI, driving in two to open Mexico’s scoring in the third inning and then drawing a bases-loaded walk to tie the game at 4 in the fourth. Tyler Thoenen contributed a two-out RBI double that tied the game at 3 to precede Hilderman’s two-out knock. 

Those timely hits make McCarty excited for the season after this first week, heading into Tuesday’s 5 p.m. home game with North Central Missouri Conference foe Kirksville (0-3, 0-1 NCMC).

“Overall, our hitting was pretty good,” McCarty said. “We got some timely good hits. We’ve had some deep doubles (this season).”

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