Cape Wins Season Opener 7-5 Over O’Fallon

O’FALLON, MO (May 31) – The Catfish opened their 2023 campaign Wednesday night with a come-from-behind road win against the O’Fallon Hoots, 7-5.

The Catfish wasted no time in the top of the first when center fielder and leadoff batter Chris Hall (Lincoln Memorial University) hit a sharp grounder to third on the first pitch of the game. The ball handcuffed Hoots third baseman Ethan Rossow (Milwaukee Area Tech) allowing Hall to reach on the error. He stole second on the next pitch and scored on a one-out single by Justin Carinci (Eastern Kentucky).

But the Hoots came roaring back in the bottom of the first when leadoff hitter Rossow grounded to Catfish shortstop Jacob Baller (Dyersburg State Community College) whose throw to first went wide allowing Rossow to advance to second. Two batters later Hoots designated hitter Chase Beattie (St. Louis University) blasted a line drive homer into the left field bleachers giving O’Fallon a 2-1 lead. The next Hoots batter, left fielder Nick Harms (Case Western Reserve), sent a long ball over the fence in right center increasing O’Fallon’s lead to 3-1.

Catfish starter Marshall Brown (Arkansas Tech) struck out the side in the second before Catfish right fielder Kevin McCarthy (Tennessee Southern) singled to right in the top of the third. He advanced to second on a pickoff attempt throwing error by Hoots starter Owen Schexnaydre (Louisiana State). McCarthy scored when Hall hit a one-out single up the middle cutting the O’Fallon lead to 3-2.

After giving up back-to-back home runs in the first inning, Brown settled down and retired the next seven Hoots batters before allowing a two-out single and a walk in the bottom of the third. Both O’Fallon runners were stranded when Cape reliever Raymond Ochoa (Mineral Area College) induced an inning-ending ground out.

Cape plated three runs in the top of the fourth highlighted by a bases-loaded line drive single to center by Hall that drove in two Fish to make the score 5-3 in Cape’s favor, a lead they’d never give up.

O’Fallon put the potential tying runs on base with no outs in the bottom of the fourth, but failed to score when one runner was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice, another was tagged out trying to steal second, and the final out of the inning was recorded on a called third strike.

But in the top of the fifth, Rossow led off with a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch thrown by Catfish reliever Bryce Morgan (Mineral Area College).  Rossow scored on a sacrifice fly by Beattie, his third RBI of the game and cutting the Catfish lead to 5-4.

Cape picked up a run in the seventh when, with two outs, Catfish second baseman Justin Carinci hit a soft liner to right driving in Hall from second and giving the Fish a two-run lead, 6-4.

Catfish reliever Alex Esker (Southeast Missouri State) issued walks to the first three batters in the bottom of the seventh and was relieved by Camron Lewis (West Virginia State). A subsequent wild pitch allowed all three runners to advance and cut the Catfish lead to 6-5, but Lewis struck out the side to minimize the damage.

A single, a hit batsman and a pair of walks in the top of the ninth gave Cape an insurance run and Catfish reliever Eddie White (Southeast Missouri) pitched a perfect ninth to earn the save.

Winning pitcher was Camron Lewis who pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth, striking out four Hoots while allowing just one hit. Schexnaydre took the loss for the Hoots.

Cape, 1-0, scored seven runs on 11 hits and committed one error. The Hoots, 0-1, plated five runs on eight hits and had a pair of errors.

The win was the first for new Catfish Manager Scott Little who quipped afterward that you “can’t win them all unless you win the first one.”

The Catfish return to action Friday in Jackson, Tennessee, against the Rockabillys. Game time is 7 p.m. Cape’s home opener will be Saturday against the Rockabillys in Capaha Park. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.