Catfish Battle Shoes for Division Lead

Cape Girardeau, MO Aug. 1 – With less than a week remaining in the 2022 Prospect League season, Monday night’s game between the Cape Catfish and Springfield Lucky Horseshoes had a playoff feel as both teams were vying for a first-place berth in the league’s Prairie Land Division.

The Catfish came into the game with a record of 11-11 in the second half of the season, good enough for a narrow lead in the standings over the Horseshoes and their record of 11-13.

Thanks to timely hitting, good pitching and some excellent defensive plays, the Catfish edged the Horseshoes 3-2 to strengthen their hold on first place.

Cape scored first Monday night when, in the bottom of the third, leadoff hitter Christopher Hall (Florida State College at Jacksonville), hit his fifth double of the season and scored when the next batter, catcher Andrew Sharp from West Virginia State, singled to center off Springfield starter Corbin Bassham (University of Illinois at Springfield). The RBI was Sharp’s 14th of the summer.

Springfield tied the game in the fifth when right fielder Peter Fusek (Milwaukee Area Technical College) muscled a two-out bloop single to right, stole second on the first pitch to the next batter, shortstop Sam Antonacci (Heartland Community College). Antonacci hit a single to right fielder Cam Hill (Purdue) who fired the ball to Sharp at home in an attempt to keep Fusek from scoring. Although the throw beat the runner to the plate, Fusek collided with Sharp and the ball squirted away, allowing Fusek to score. Meanwhile, Antonacci continued to round the bases and attempted to catch the Catfish catnapping, but Catfish pitcher Eli Brown (Lindenwood University) picked up the ball and tagged Antonacci a few feet from the plate.

Cape regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Hall led off with a single off Horseshoes reliever A.J. Golembiewski (University of Illinois at Springfield), stole second and third, and scored on an infield groundout hit by Sharp, giving him his second RBI of the game.

The Catfish added a run in the sixth frame thanks to three consecutive one-out singles hit by second baseman Zane Wallace (Lyon College), shortstop Lane Crowden (Three Rivers Community College) and third baseman Danny Sperling (Southeast Missouri State), the last of which driving Wallace home.

The Horseshoes loaded the bases in the top of the seventh thanks to a walk and a pair of singles off of Eli Brown. Reliever Chad Donze replaced his Lindenwood teammate on the mound and gave up a single to Fusek, the first batter he faced, driving in one run to make the score 3-2. Donze then struck out the next two Springfield batters and induced a groundout by Antonacci to end the Springfield rally.

Cape had a chance to add to its lead in the bottom of the eighth, but Wallace, who was on second base, attempted to score on a two-out infield single hit by pinch hitter John Bolton (Arkansas) but was thrown out at the plate.

With the Catfish clinging to a one-run lead in the ninth, Catfish reliever Austin Brock (Arkansas State) induced a groundout from Horseshoes catcher Nolan Self (Three Rivers) on the first pitch of the inning, struck out third baseman Jake Curtis (Lincoln Land Community College) and got Fusek to ground out to short to end the game.

Brown was the winning pitcher, evening his record at 3-3, allowing two Springfield runs on eight hits striking out three and walking one. Bassham took the loss, dropping his record to 2-5, while Brock picked up his fourth save of the season.

With the win, the Catfish improved their second-half record to 12-11 while Springfield fell to 11-14, a game and a half behind the first-place Fish.

Cape will finish its regular season schedule with five games against the O’Fallon Hoots, starting in O’Fallon Tuesday, a doubleheader in Cape Thursday, a road game in O’Fallon Friday and a season finale in Cape Saturday.