Wednesday’s baseball game between William Chrisman and North Kansas City was decided by inches.
Several runs scored because of the ball just missing gloves, and the deciding run scored on a double just inside the left field line by Northtown's Parker Mullins. The hit broke a 4-4 tie to give the Hornets a 5-4 victory over Chrisman in the Suburban Middle Seven showdown.
“They just capitalized on more opportunities than we did,” Chrisman coach Tom Campa said. “They had their chances and we had ours. Unfortunately, our chances didn’t go our way in the end.”
The hit that set up Mullins’ game-winner in the top of the seventh also was a close call. Blake Eversole drilled a fastball to center field and Eli Henderson appeared to have a chance to track it down. He nearly caught the ball on a dive, but the ball bounced out of his glove and allowed Eversole to take second. He later scored on Mullins' double that hit the chalk.
“We may have gotten a little bit fortunate on the line drive,” Northtown coach Steve Hall said.
The Hornets’ (4-7, 3-2 Middle Seven) first two runs scored in a similar fashion.
Henderson, Chrisman’s starting pitcher, had pinpoint control in the first three innings, not allowing a single or a batter to reach a 3-ball count. That changed in the top of the fourth when he hit Eversole and walked Kyle Gaines to start the inning. One batter later, Joey Schneider lined the ball toward shortstop Nick Ross, who appeared to have it but the ball bounced out of the top of the webbing of his glove and went into center field to score two runs.
Henderson then hit another batter and Nick Ufferman’s sacrifice bunt set up RBI singles from Pedro Alfonseca and Kody Gaines to make it 4-0.
“We have to stop giving up big innings,” Campa said after his team fell to 5-6 overall and 0-4 in the Middle Seven. “We gave up seven runs in an inning the other day. We can’t afford to give up that many runs because we have hard time coming from behind.”
Northtown starting pitcher Ufferman cruised through three innings, didn’t allow a hit and worked his way around two errors. But in the fourth, the errors by his defense came back to bite him. After he hit Henderson with a pitch, Damon Montes and Grady Ogle both reached base on infield errors. Will Fisher took advantage with his team’s first hit of a game – a bouncing seeing-eye single to left field to score a run.
After Josh Jarvis flew out, Tyler Callahan hit a grounder to second that was fielded by Schneider, who tagged out Fisher but his glove flew out of his hand in the process. That allowed another runner to score to make it 4-2 going into the fifth.
A two-run sixth by Chrisman easily could have been more, but the Northtown defense prevented that. Following an infield single from Montes and an Ogle sacrifice bunt, Fisher drilled a pitch to center field but the speedy Alfonseca tracked it down. With two outs, Jarvis drilled a pitch to right field that went off the tip of the glove of Brock Lorenzen and allowed a run to score.
Jarvis then scored on a Callahan single. A throw from Dillon Coons got to the catcher before Jarvis got to home plate, but the ball bounced out of the glove of Mullins, which tied the game at 4-4.
The difference in the game ended up being Northtown’s ability to track down hard-hit balls, and those same type of hits evading the inside of Chrisman’s gloves. After the Hornets scored in the top of the seventh, Henderson had his second loud out of the game when he hit a screamer toward third. Eversole ranged to his right to snag it and end the game, as Ufferman picked up the complete game victory, allowing two earned runs on four hits with three strikeouts.
“He kept them off-balance,” Hall said of Ufferman. “He only threw 71 pitches and worked ahead in the count. We’re really happy with the way he performed.”
Jarvis picked up the loss in two innings of relief. The loss was the fourth in the last five for Chrisman.
“They just adjusted to our hitters, but we hit the ball well,” Campa said. “We have a tendency to pull the ball a lot. We got to go to the plate with the mentality of working the middle part of the field and the right side. They set up defensively and we hit it right to them. We’re in a slump right now, but we’ll bounce back.”