WEBB CITY, Mo. — Eric Fitch and Cooper Crouch combined on a one-hitter, Devrin Weathers scored half his team’s runs, Treghan Parker reached a milestone and the host Webb City Cardinals took advantage of numerous extra outs en route to an 8-1 win over Neosho on Tuesday night in a Central Ozark Conference clash at Chuck Barnes Field.
“This was a good victory,” Webb City coach Flave Darnell said. “We had great pitching and great defense and that usually leads to a victory.”
Ranked third in Class 5, Webb City improved to 19-5 overall and 6-2 in the COC with a fifth straight win.
The Cardinals received a stellar start from Fitch, a junior right-hander. Fitch went five innings and allowed just one run on one hit, a walk and a hit batter while striking out five.
A junior right-hander, Crouch tossed two perfect innings in relief. Crouch fanned three of the six batters he faced.
“Eric and Cooper have been doing a great job and they keep getting better every outing,” Darnell said. “Eric did a great job of keeping the ball down. Cooper came in and looked electric. Both pitchers had good rhythm and that usually leads to good defense.”
Webb City recorded just four hits in the game, but the hosts took advantage of seven walks and Neosho’s five errors.
“When you get guys on base you can put pressure on people,” Darnell said. “Devrin does that a lot when he gets on base. We were able to take advantage of their mistakes and that was good to see.”
The team’s speedy senior leadoff batter, Weathers went 2-for-2, drew two walks, scored four runs and stole five bases.
A senior shortstop, Parker drove in two runs on one hit and a sacrifice fly. Parker is now Webb City’s single-season leader in runs batted in with 48. The previous school record of 46 was set by Chance Sossamon in 2008.
Wyatt Keplar took the loss for Neosho (3-20, 0-8 in COC), but the senior lefty surrendered just three hits in 4 2/3 innings. Keplar walked six and struck out five.
“When he’s on and throws strikes, he’s tough and he can beat anybody,” Neosho coach Danny Powers said of Keplar. “To hold Webb City to four hits was good. But unfortunately, we didn’t do the other things well and they cost us runs. When you do that, it’s going to be tough to be in the game against a team as good as Webb City is.”
Carter Fenske went the final 1 1/3 innings for the Wildcats, allowing one earned run.
Neosho was limited to three baserunners, with none after the second inning.
The Wildcats had their lone hit of the night in the first inning. Lane Yost was hit by a pitch with two outs before Keplar delivered an RBI double to left.
“We got off to a good start and got that double with two outs and I thought we might be able to scrap some runs across,” Powers said. “But you have to credit their pitchers. I know their starter had a four-pitch inning at one point. He settled in. Our at-bats weren’t great, they were pumping in strikes and they had some quick innings.”
In the bottom half of the first, Weathers walked, stole second and sprinted home on Parker’s RBI single into right. Parker later charged home on a wild pitch for a 2-1 lead.
Neosho’s Eli Zar reached on an error in the second and he was the final Wildcat to reach base.
In the third, Weathers singled and took second on an error. The Kansas State football recruit stole third and came home on an error for a 3-1 advantage.
The Cardinals extended their lead with three runs in the fourth.
Eli Goddard walked, Aiden Brock singled, Jeremiah Leaming sacrificed and Fitch was retired before Weathers walked.
In a rare occurrence, three runs scored on three balk calls, giving the Cardinals a 6-1 cushion.
Webb City added two runs in the sixth for the final margin, as Fitch walked and later scored on an error. Weathers singled and later came home on Parker’s sac fly to center. It was Parker’s 48th RBI of the season.
Both teams have their final COC contests of the season on Thursday, as Neosho hosts Nixa and Webb City hosts Republic.
Powers hopes to see continued improvement from his Wildcats as the regular season winds down.
“Our goal right now is we want to be competitive and put ourselves in the position to make other teams make mistakes,” Powers said. “Right now we’re making too many mistakes, whether it’s walking guys or kicking the ball around a little bit. We know even good teams make mistakes. We’re good enough to be competitive late in games. On Thursday we want to keep it close and hopefully we’ll come out on top.”
For the Cardinals, the importance of Thursday’s game will be determined by what happens between Nixa and Republic on Wednesday.
With a win Wednesday, Republic would clinch an outright COC title.
If the Eagles top the Tigers, Webb City could still secure a share of a championship on Thursday.
“Republic’s a very good team and we’re looking for a good showing on Thursday,” Darnell said. “We’re looking forward to Senior Night on Thursday.”