Hornets can’t hold on, fall to Hallsville 5-4

Fulton Hornets head coach Darren Masek has been pleased with the pitching performances he’s gotten out of his team all season.

With the exception of one inning, he liked the way his staff threw against the Hallsville Indians on Thursday night.

That one inning, though, was the difference-maker.

The Indians scored five runs in the top of the sixth to come from behind and trip Fulton 5-4 at the high school athletic complex.

“Sometimes you’re just a few feet away from getting those outs, sometimes it’ll cut a few feet to the left or right to the right people,” Masek said. “I’ve been pleased with the pitching throughout the season; we just need to find a way to be more consistent in the field and have better at-bats.”

The Hornets (9-9) led 2-0 after five innings, getting four scoreless from senior starter Joe Schlemeier and a perfect fifth from senior reliever Kory Masek.

Fulton took the lead in the bottom of the third on a two-run double down the third-base line by freshman catcher Isaiah Pani.

Kory Masek returned to the mound in the sixth and was taken to the left-field fence for a double by senior first baseman CJ Ashburn on the very first pitch. Senior left fielder Blake Stone moved him to third with a single up the middle and Ashburn scored on a sacrifice fly to center by senior third baseman Lucas Stewart.

Senior pinch-hitter Tracy Fulton drew a walk to push Stewart over to second and junior second baseman Joe Forge tied the game at 2-all with a one-out single up the middle.

Hallsville senior Ryan Long came in to pinch hit for senior center fielder Sean Wooten and made the most of the one swing he took, sending Kory Masek’s offering over the left-field fence for a three-run home run to give the Indians a 5-2 advantage.

Long was Masek’s final batter as he moved out to center and was relieved by senior Paul Books.

Masek threw 1 1/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on four hits and issuing a walk.

“I think he was just leaving some pitches over the plate and (the Indians) were hitting the ball pretty good,” Darren Masek said.

Kory Masek responded with a one-out single to right in the sixth. Junior third baseman Blake Thompson followed that up with a hard-hit single back at Hallsville senior pitcher Derrek Trickel to move Masek to third.

Freshman left fielder Alec Fleetwood reached first on a throwing error by Trickel to drive in Kory Masek and cut Fulton’s deficit to 5-3.

Sophomore right fielder Zach Franklin struck out swinging to follow, but sophomore second baseman Tristan Steffans extended the inning. He reached on an error Hallsville senior shortstop Austin Silar to plate Thompson and make it a one-run game with two outs and two on.

Senior shortstop Dalton Horstmier, though, popped out to first base on Trickel’s first pitch to end both the inning and the Hornets’ rally.

“Hallsville made some errors there to keep the inning going, but we weren’t able to get the big hit when we needed it,” Darren Masek said.

The Indians began their seventh with back-to-back singles by senior catcher Nathan Goett and Ashburn. Books retired Stone and Stewart for the first two outs, before Fulton delivered a sharply hit ball up the middle.

Kory Masek charged in, launched a dart just left of the plate to Pani, who put the tag down on a sliding Goett to keep the Indians’ lead at a run.

“… One thing (Kory Masek) does better than any other outfielder we’ve got is he comes and gets the ball; he doesn’t waste any time,” Darren Masek said. “It was a nice, accurate throw at the plate and it gave us an opportunity there in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game; we just didn’t do much.”

The Hornets went down in order in the seventh as they ended up getting out-hit 10-5. Pani finished 1-for-2, Kory Masek and Thompson were 1-for-3 and Books and Horstmeier went 1-for-4 as Fulton lost for a seventh time in its last eight games.

“We talked about the fact that we’re taking good pitches to hit and swinging at bad pitches,” Darren Masek said. “… Just overall, we aren’t having good at-bats, one through nine, and we have to start doing that if we want to start scoring runs.”

Schlemeier struck out two in four innings, allowing three hits and walking two in his first start of the season.

The Hornets (11-5) blanked the Indians 3-0 in the junior varsity game.

Fulton returns to North Central Missouri Conference play at rival Mexico at 5 p.m. today. The Hornets shut out the Bulldogs 1-0 on April 10 in Fulton.

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