Hits, Walks and Errors Contribute to Catfish Loss

O’Fallon, MO Aug. 5 – After holding the O’Fallon Hoots to a just four hits and a single run in a doubleheader sweep in Cape Girardeau the night before, the Cape Catfish gave up 10 hits and 10 runs in a 10-3 loss to the same team Friday night at CarShield Field in O’Fallon.

Cape’s loss, coupled with a 9-3 win Friday by the Springfield Lucky Horseshoes over the Alton River Dragons, left the first-place Catfish with a precarious half-game lead over second-place Springfield in the Prospect League’s Prairie Land Division. As a result, the Catfish need either a win or a Springfield loss Saturday to punch their postseason ticket as they defend their 2021 Prospect League championship.

The Hoots never trailed Friday night, scoring twice in their first at bat thanks to an RBI groundout by Jacob Hager (Arkansas State) and a two-out RBI single by Ambrose Russo (Lindenwood University).

Cape starting pitcher Austin Gast, a Cape Girardeau native and sophomore at Three Rivers Community College, kept the Hoots from scoring again until the sixth inning when an error (one of six by the Catfish) and two walks loaded the bases. Gast was relieved by Drury University’s Stephen Pursely, making his 18th mound appearance for the Fish this season. Pursely hit the first batter he faced to force in a run, then gave up a sacrifice fly to Hoots center fielder Patrick Clohisy (Purdue) to make the score 4-0.

Cape cut the O’Fallon lead in half in the top of the seventh when left fielder Josh Cameron (Southeast Missouri State) and catcher Blake Barton (Belmont) singled to put runners on first and third. A wild pitch on ball four not only walked the next batter (second baseman Zane Wallace from Lyon College), but also allowed Cameron to score. Third baseman Kolten Poorman (Three Rivers) was then hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. The Catfish scored their second run of the inning when first baseman Cam Careswell (Mizzou) hit into a double play, scoring Barton.

O’Fallon added an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh, making the score 5-2, thanks to a walk and a pair of Catfish errors. The inning also included a pair of hit batsmen and a double by Hoots catcher Noah Jouras (Triton College) that did not factor in the scoring.

The Hoots doubled their run total in the eighth inning with RBI singles hit by Jouras, first baseman Cole Robinson (Missouri Southern) and Hager, whose infield single drove in two runs. Hoots right fielder Blane Besse (Missouri Baptist) was also credited with an RBI when he walked with the bases loaded.

Cape picked up a run in the ninth inning when Wallace and Barton opened the inning with singles and Poorman drove Barton home with an RBI single of his own. However, he and Wallace were stranded on base as Hoots reliever Aidan Haynes, who will be a freshman this fall at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, recorded the final outs to end the game.

O’Fallon starting pitcher Noah Niznik allowed four Cape hits and two runs while striking out 10 Catfish and walking no one over six innings to get the win, improving his record to 3-0 in his five starts this season. Gast took the loss, giving up five hits and four runs (three earned) while walking five and striking out two in his 5 1/3 innings of work. He is now 0-2 this summer in his three starts.

The Catfish face the Hoots Saturday in the regular season finale at Capaha Field in Cape Girardeau. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.