Catfish Survive 9th Inning Drama to Defeat Dragons

ALTON, IL – (July 1) – The Alton River Dragons gave up just five hits to the Cape Catfish Saturday night, but those hits – coupled with 11 walks issued by Dragon pitchers – were enough as Cape held on defeat Alton 5-3.

The win was not without late inning drama as the Dragons batted in the bottom of the 9th trailing 5-1, loaded the bases with no outs, but only managed to score twice.

The win boosted Cape’s record to 21-6, good for first place in the Prospect League’s Prairie Land Division, while Alton fell to 9-17.

The Dragons scored in the 1st when Alton first baseman Erik Brockemeier from Grand View University, hit a two-out RBI single to right that drove in designated hitter and Colorado-Mesa freshman Dominic Decker who had just doubled into the left field corner. The Dragons might have scored more had their leadoff batter, Dylan Mass from Saint Leo University who had singled to start the inning, slipped and fell on the wet turf as he rounded third and was tagged out.

Catfish second baseman Kevin McCarthy blasted his second home run of the season, this one over the right field fence, to start the 3rd inning. Alton starting pitcher Kyle Athmer from SIU-Edwardsville then gave up a single to Catfish left fielder Justin Carinci from Mineral Area College, threw a pitch that hit right fielder Brody Chrisman and walked first baseman Landon Godsey to load the bases. Carinci scored on a wild pitch, giving Cape a 2-1 lead.

Cape designated hitter Dee Triplett from Cumberland University then walked to again load the bases. Then with one out, Catfish catcher Tucker Stockman hit a fly ball to right for the second out. The Dragon right fielder, former Catfish player Cole Yearsley from SIU-Carbondale, quickly threw the ball back to the infield, thinking Chrisman would try tag up and score from third. But Chrisman held up so the Dragons instead caught Triplett in a rundown between first and second. Triplett was eventually tagged out to end the inning, but stayed in the rundown long enough for Chrisman to score.

With one out in the top of the 4th, Dragon relief pitcher Dimitri Ivetic from SIU-Edwardsville walked McCarthy and Catfish center fielder Chris Hall (Lincoln Memorial University). After Hall stole third (his second stolen base of the game and 22nd of the season) and McCarthy stole second, the next batter, Carinci, hit a sacrifice fly to left that allowed Hall to score Cape’s fourth run of the game.

Ivetic walked the next Cape batters to load the bases and knock him out of the game. His replacement, Luke Gasser, a sophomore at Saint Louis University, proceeded to walk Triplett, pushing McCarthy across the plate and giving the Catfish a 5-1 advantage.

Alton relievers shut the Catfish down over the last five innings and at one point retired 10 consecutive Cape batters.

The Catfish ended the game with five runs on five hits, committed one error and left 12 runners on base while the Dragons had three runs on six hits, no errors and stranded nine runners.

Curry Sutherland (Missouri State) was credited with the win, pitching two innings of relief, allowing no hits while walking one and striking out three batters. Jordan Riley (University of Nevada at Reno) picked up his second save of the season after entering the game in the 9th with the bases loaded and the potential winning run at the plate.

Athmer took the loss for the Dragons and is now 2-1. He pitched two innings, allowing three runs on two hits while walking six and striking out two. He also hit a Catfish batter.

The Catfish will wrap up the first half of the Prospect League’s 2023 season on the road Sunday against the Thrillville Thrillbillies in Marion, Illinois. First pitch is set for 6:18 p.m. at Marion Stadium just east of Interstate 57 in Marion.

GAME NOTES: The Catfish swiped six bases Saturday night against the River Dragons – two by Hall and one each by McCarthy, Chrisman, Triplett and Tucker Stockman from Southern Miss who was 0-for-2 at the plate, but was walked twice by Alton pitchers. In 27 games this summer, the Catfish have stolen 64 bases – 22 of them by Hall – and have been caught just 10 times.

The start of the game was delayed nearly an hour, until 7:30 p.m., due to rain and thunderstorms in and around the Alton area. The game itself lasted 3 hours and 41 minutes, so the final out wasn’t recorded until well after 11 p.m.