Neuweg blast gives Infranca 'confidence' to pitch Wildcats past Titans

Bill Althaus
The Examiner

With one swing of the bat Blue Springs third baseman Austin Neuweg gave his buddy Michael Infranca all the run support – and confidence – he needed.

That resulted in the Wildcats claiming a 6-3 Suburban Big Eight Conference victory at Lee's Summit West Wednesday.

After leadoff man Nick Gibler led off the game with a walk and his twin brother Cole reached on an error, Neuweg deposited a Jackson Truman curveball deep over the left-field fence for a three-run homer.

"That was all the confidence I needed," said Infranca, who had a nasty curve and changeup that kept the Titans off balance most of the afternoon. "That was a great way to start the game, and it's great to have Austin back."

Neuweg missed nine games earlier this season with tinnitus in right elbow before returning recently. When he sat out, he was hitting over .400.

"I was hitting so well when I had to miss those games with tinnitus," Neuweg said, "and now that I'm back, I'm still hitting pretty well. Their pitcher hung a curveball to me and I wasn't going to miss it. The second I hit it, I knew it was gone."

While the Titans scored two runs in the bottom of the first, the Wildcats came back with a pair of runs in the top of the second on Nick Gibler's two-run double.

"The guys really played great defense and gave me plenty of runs," said Infranca, who allowed just two earned runs – the Titans added an unearned run on Drew Dickerson's RBI single in the bottom of the sixth – and had five strikeouts.

Joey Gibler, the older brother of Nick and Cole, pitched a scoreless seventh inning, but he had to pitch out of a jam that he created.

After walking the bases loaded with one out, he struck out Truman on a nasty curve and coaxed cleanup hitter Cam Careswell to pop up on the infield to end the game.

Gibler waved off his brother Nick and Trent Martin to make the catch near the third base line.

"Everyone knows that this is the time of the year you want to be playing your best baseball, and that's what we're doing," Infranca said after the Wildcats improved to 13-17 overall and 3-9 in conference play. "As this game went on, you could feel our confidence grow, and that's how we've been playing lately."

Wildcats coach Tim McElligott was pleased with all phases of his team's performance on a day that was made for playing baseball.

"Michael has that wicked curveball and a great change, and he was in total control of both of them today," McElligott said as he made the long walk to the team bus with coaches Alex Duvall and Danny Malone, two former Wildcat standouts.

"And it is so great to have Austin back, because he's hitting the ball as well now as he was before he had to sit with the tinnitus. This was a good game – well played, well pitched and it was big to have Joey come on and pitch that seventh inning. He got into a little bit of trouble, but he pitched out of it.

"And that's been a problem this season, not being able to hold leads late in the game."