Third-seeded Ozark scored a single tally in the third inning and added an insurance run in the fifth while keeping Carthage out of the run column in a 2-0 win in the final game of the Class 6 District 6 Tournament’s opening round on Monday at the JHS Athletic Complex.
“We always ask our kids to play and compete from innings one through seven, and I think they did that today,” Carthage coach Luke Bordewick said. “(Starting pitcher) Kaden Arr kept us in it and was lights out, getting us out of a couple of big jams. … Offensively, we had our chances. That is what we want Carthage baseball to be—competing the entire game.”
Carthage’s season ends with a 7-23 record and the Tigers graduate seniors Parker Copeland, Landon Parker, Zach Geter, Logan Carmickle, Kanen Vogt, Nate Norbury, Kaden Arr, Caden Kabance, Braxdon Tate and Sylas Browning.
“They are such good kids,” Bordewick said. “Gish dang, they are such a great group of kids. They make it a joy to come to the ballpark every day. For me personally, they helped me rediscover my love for the game. … They made it fun day in and day out. I told them after the game that I think they saved me as a coach. I wasn’t looking at walking away, but last year was a tough year. This year, I just can’t thank them enough for it. They are competitors and they grinded all year. It just didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but I can’t thank them enough for it.
“This group loves baseball. They love coming out and competing every single day. Over the course of a 32ish game season, it can be a grind. These kids never got down, stuck with it and believed they were going to be in it at the end of the year and they were.”
Brody Baumann pitched a complete-game shutout for the win, scattering two hits, walking one and striking out seven in seven innings.
Arr took the tough-luck complete-game loss after allowing two runs, one earned, on six hits, a walk and six strikeouts in six innings.
“He has been like that for us all year and his entire pitching career at Carthage,” Bordewick said. “He is a guy who is going to give his best 100 percent of the time. He really dove into the pitcher-only role this year and it showed. Stellar performance against a really good Ozark team.”
Ozark took the game’s first lead in the bottom of the third inning when Cooper Buvid singled to center field with a pair of runners on to plate Brock Dodd for a 1-0 advantage.
Ozark pushed the lead to 2-0 in the last of the fifth inning after Devyn Wright led the frame off with a single before coming around to score on a sacrifice fly from Buvid.
Like so many times this year, Carthage didn’t go down without a fight, threatening in the top of the seventh with Carmickle starting the inning off with a single before Browning reached on an Ozark error. Baumann responded with a strikeout, a pop up and a groundout to end the threat and the game.
Wright had two hits and scored a run, while Buvid had a hit and drove in two for Ozark.
Carmickle and Bradyn Tate each had hits for Carthage.
Ozark takes on second-seeded Kickapoo at 6:30 p.m. in the district semifinals on Tuesday at the JHS Athletic Complex.
Top-seeded Nixa (31-3) opened the day with a 12-2 win in six innings over eight-seeded Springfield Central (6-17). Nixa and fourth-seeded Republic play at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
Second-seeded Kickapoo (25-7) earned a 7-4 win over seventh-seeded Lebanon (10-16) in the third game of the day.