Weber Pitches No-Hitter As Catfish Sweep Doubleheader

Cape Girardeau, MO, Aug. 4 – The Cape Catfish swept a doubleheader Thursday night over the O’Fallon Hoots, winning the first game 9-1 and taking the nightcap 3-0 in the first no-hitter in Catfish history.

The wins put the Catfish in the driver’s seat in their push for a postseason berth in defense of their 2021 Prospect League championship with two games remaining on their regular season schedule.

GAME ONE: The starting pitchers for both teams – Tanner Mueller for the Catfish and Bryce Grossius for the Hoots – felt right at home Thursday night because they’re Redhawk teammates at Southeast Missouri State University which plays its home games at Capaha Field.

Both pitchers were also looking for their first win of the season Thursday night. Mueller, making his eighth start of the summer, was 0-4 while Grossius had a 0-2 record after three mound appearances.

Mueller got off to a good start, retiring the first eight batters he faced over 2 2/3 innings. But after walking the ninth batter on four straight balls, he left the game after experiencing what he described as “tightness” in his pitching arm. He was replaced on the mound by Chad Donze (Lindenwood University).

Meanwhile, Grossius scattered four Catfish hits over the first 2 2/3 innings – all of them singles – with no runners advancing past second base. But with two outs in the third, Cape left fielder Josh Cameron (Southeast Missouri State) singled to center and advanced to third on a perfectly executed hit and run as designated hitter Blake Barton (Belmont University) singled to right. Cameron scored a wild pitch, giving the Catfish a 1-0 lead.

The Hoots picked up their first hit in the fourth inning, a two-out single over second baseman Zane Wallace’s head into center field hit by Hoots first baseman Cole Robinson (Missouri Southern). He was forced out at second on a ground ball hit by left fielder Blane Besse (Missouri Baptist) to shortstop Lane Crowden (Three Rivers Community College) to end the inning.

The Catfish bats came alive in the fourth inning starting with a leadoff double by third baseman Kolton Poorman (Three Rivers). He advanced to third on a wild pitch. Wallace, the next Catfish batter, hit a fly ball to short left field that neither the shortstop nor left fielder could reach allowing Poorman to score without a play. A single by right fielder Dalton Rudd (Western Kentucky) put two runners on with no outs. Wallace and Rudd both crossed the plate when Crowden doubled down the left field line to give the Catfish a 4-0 advantage.

Crowden advanced to third on a wild pitch and the next batter, center fielder Christopher Hall (Florida State College at Jacksonville) walked to put runners on first and third, still with no outs. Catfish catcher Andrew Sharp (West Virginia State), the sixth batter of the inning, singled to left center to drive in Crowden and knock Grossius out of the game.

Grossius’ replacement, Matt James from Lindenwood University, hit Cameron, the first batter he faced, to load the bases, still with no outs. A wild pitch allowed Hall to score from third and the other runners to advance to second and third. Sharp scored on a sacrifice fly to right hit by Barton. That closed the book on Grossman who pitched 3-plus innings, allowing seven runs on 10 hits, striking out two and walking two.

Cape first baseman Cam Careswell (Mizzou) struck out bringing Poorman to the plate for the second time in the inning. And, just as he did to lead off the inning, Poorman doubled, his 10th two-bagger of the season, driving Cameron home and giving the Catfish an eight-run lead. Poorman was stranded at third when Wallace grounded out to short.

The Catfish made it 9-0 in the fifth when Rudd walked, stole second and scored when Crowden singled to center. It was Crowden’s third RBI of the game and 24th of the season.

The Hoots picked up a run in the sixth frame on back-to-back singles off of Catfish reliever Stephen Pursley (Drury University) and an RBI sacrifice fly by third baseman Jacob Hagar (Arkansas State) that drove in center fielder Connor Milton (University of Illinois).

But that would be the end of the scoring in the seven-inning game as the Catfish held on to an eight-run lead and won 9-1.

Cape outhit O’Fallon 13-4 and O’Fallon had the game’s only error. Donze picked up the win, allowing no runs on two hits, striking out four while walking none in his 2 1/3 innings of work. His record is now 2-3. Grossius took the loss, dropping to 0-3.

GAME TWO: Catfish starter and Jackson native Colten Weber pitched a gem, allowing no hits and no runs in the seven-inning game while scattering four walks and striking out seven Hoots batters.

In a post-game interview, Weber said he knew he was pitching well throughout most of the game and realized he had a shot at a no-hitter. “In the first couple of innings I wasn’t thinking of it, but by the third or fourth I kind of looked out qand I saw no hits (on the scoreboard) and thought ‘that’s cool,'” he said.

This was Weber’s third no-hitter, the first coming when he was 13 and pitching with a traveling team in a wood bat tournament in Perryville. His second was when he pitched the first six innings of a combined no-hitter during his freshman year at Crowder College in Neosho, Missouri.

Throughout the game Thursday night Weber said he tried to relax and stay on an even keel. “We made plays that needed to be made. I never lost my cool or got too overwhelmed. I just tried to stay calm.” Among those plays were some defensive gems including at least two late inning running catches by Christopher Hall in center field that helped preserve the no-hitter.

By the final inning, none of Weber’s teammates were talking to him. In the seventh inning I without a doubt knew and the whole team knew, but they were all being careful not to say anything,” he said. Weber made quick work of the Hoots in their final at bat, getting the first batter to fly out to center and striking out the final two batters on called third strikes.

Weber shared credit for the no-hitter with Blake Barton, his battery mate. “I think we’re a really good team,” he said. “And he understands me when I’m not comfortable.”

For his part, Barton said he didn’t know Weber was pitching a no-hitter until their teammates ran onto the field and dumped a cooler of ice water on him. “I had no idea,” Barton claimed in a post-game interview.

The Catfish got all the runs they needed in the first inning of the nightcap. The inning began when Hall beat out an infield single. He advanced to third on a double down the right field line by left fielder Josh Cameron and scored when the throw home by Hoots right fielder Ambrose Russo (Lindenwood University) sailed into the O’Fallon dugout. Cameron advanced to third on the throw and scored when the next batter, Barton, hit a sacrifice fly to left.

Cape added a run in the fifth when Hall hit a one-out double to left, stole third and scored on the next pitch when designated hitter Andrew Sharp hit a sacrifice fly to right field, giving the Fish a 3-0 lead.

With the win, Weber’s record improved to 3-2. O’Fallon lefty Trent Anderson (University of Missouri-St. Louis), who was appearing in his fourth game and first as a starter, took the loss, dropping his record to 0-2. He pitched three innings, allowing three hits and two unearned runs while striking out four and walking none.

The Catfish wrap up their regular season schedule with two more games against the Hoots including a game Friday night in O’Fallon and the season finale at Capaha Field in Cape Girardeau. Both games start at 6:35 p.m.