What at first appeared unlikely transformed into a wild win for the Fulton Hornets baseball team.
Senior designated hitter Ben Menke's two-run single with two out in the top of the eighth inning put Fulton in front to stay and the Hornets - who trailed 10-0 after the first inning - emerged with a dramatic 12-11 NCMC victory over Marshall on Thursday night.
The compelling comeback also ended a three-game losing streak for Fulton, which improved to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in the North Central Missouri Conference. The Hornets shaved their substantial deficit Thursday night with a run in the third and five more in the sixth, before forcing extra innings with a four-run rally in the seventh.
Junior left fielder Jake Abbott's two-out single brought in senior center fielder Ryan Fritz with the tying run to renew Fulton's hopes.
"They were not good thoughts," Hornets head coach Darren Masek said of his mindset after the disastrous first inning. "We threw a challenge out to the players to find out what they were made of; they didn't respond immediately but they didn't give up."
Fulton senior Nick Christensen - who pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief to post his first win of the season - doubled with one out in the eighth. The Hornets then loaded the bases on consecutive walks to senior second baseman Alex Thomas and senior third baseman Joel Matthews.
Christensen was then forced at home on Fritz's grounder for the second out of the inning. Menke, though, came up and lined a single into left-center, scoring Thomas and Matthews to give Fulton a 12-10 lead.
The Hornets still had to stop the Owls one last time.
Marshall's leadoff hitter in the bottom of the eighth coaxed a walk and stole second. After Christensen struck out the next two batters, the Owls' baserunner moved to third on a passed ball. Following another walk, the second runner stole second base.
When Fulton senior catcher Brandon Hammerstone threw down to second, the runner at third broke for home. He was safe at the plate when Hammerstone couldn't cleanly field the throw, but he was able to block the ball.
Marshall's other baserunner tried to advance to third on the play, but Matthews tagged him out on a perfect throw from Hammerstone to end the game.
"We needed a win like this," Masek said. "It picked our spirits up a little bit."
Christensen (1-0) allowed a run despite not giving up any hits. He struck out four and also hit a batter.
The Hornets seemed to solve some of their recent offensive troubles by erupting for 16 hits. Fritz went 2-for-5 with a two-run double in the sixth and a three-run double in the seventh. He scored two runs.
Menke was also 2-for-5 with three RBI, while junior first baseman Burke Echelmeier finished 3-for-5 with two RBI. Thomas went 2-for-4 with a double and three runs scored and Christensen was 2-for-5 and scored twice. Matthews finished 1-for-3 with three runs scored.
"We shuffled our lineup a little bit and made a few changes," Masek said. "Our approach at the plate was a lot better; we only struck out three times and we hit a lot of balls hard."
Fulton returns home for a matchup against Jefferson City Helias at 5 p.m. today at Hensley Field.
Wathen, T-Birds golf team
finish second in triangular
Junior Gary Wathen took second place individually and host North Callaway came in second overall in a triangular with Fatima and New Bloomfield on Thursday at Tanglewood Golf Course in Fulton.
Wathen carded a 43, while Fatima's Dusty Angerer shot a 38 to capture medalist honors. Fatima also claimed first place with a team score of 178, two shots better than the Thunderbirds' 180. New Bloomfield took third with a 214.
Sophomore Kyle Latham also supplied a 44 for North Callaway, while senior Dillon Dowden added a 45 and sophomore Alan Westling contributed a 48.
"Both Gary and Kyle got off to rough starts, but they still managed to put together respectable rounds," Thunderbirds head coach Jason Smith said. "Their mental game is getting better all the time."
On Wednesday in the Southern Boone Classic at Eagle Knoll Golf Club in Hartsburg, North Callaway finished sixth out of 16 teams with a 372. Latham and Wathen both medalled by placing 12th (89) and 15th (91), respectively.
Westling was next with a 94 for the Thunderbirds, followed by Dowden with a 98.
In a triangular with Southern Boone and Mexico on Tuesday at Tanglewood, North Callaway ended up second with a team total of 173. Southern Boone collected top honors with a 167 and Mexico finished third with a 177.
Wathen topped the Thunderbirds with a 39, while Latham provided a 41. Senior Brady Borman chipped in with a 46 and Dowden had a 47.
North Callaway plays in the Moberly Invitational at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Timberlake Golf Course.
William Woods baseball..............12
Senior right fielder LJ Watson doubled twice and drove in three runs Wednesday night to ignite the Owls' 15-hit rampage in their blowout of the NCAA Division II Saints at Owls Field.
Junior first baseman Derek McCawley was also 3-for-3 with three RBI for William Woods University (24-11). The Owls took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, then broke out for three runs in the third, five in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth.
Maryville (8-22) - which committed four errors - tallied its lone run in the sixth.
Watson finished 2-for-3, scored three runs and stole a base. He delivered an RBI double in the third and then knocked in two runs with another double in the fourth. McCawley provided RBI singles in the first, third and fourth.
Senior center fielder Stephen Thoenen also went 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the sixth and scored two runs for William Woods. Freshman catcher Derek Fletcher was 3-for-4 with an RBI double in the fourth.
Three Owls pitchers, led by senior starter Eric Switzer, combined to limit the Saints to five hits. Switzer (2-1) scattered two hits over five scoreless innings to log the victory, striking out two while issuing a walk.
William Woods was scheduled to open a four-game American Midwest Conference series at home against McKendree (Ill.) University with a doubleheader today, but it has been pushed back to 1 p.m. Saturday. The two teams will then play another doubleheader at noon Sunday.
The host Lady Blue Jays combined to produce just two runs and eight hits in Wednesday's doubleheader loss to the Lady Bears, ranked No. 26 in the latest NFCA Division III poll.
Westminster College - limited to four hits - scored its only run in the first game in the seventh inning. Freshman right fielder Megan Kaysinger led off with a single and later came home on senior shortstop Brittany Moreno's sacrifice fly with two out.
Kaysinger, senior catcher Amy Baumhoer, sophomore center fielder Kenna Cornelson and freshman first baseman Rai'an Harris were each 1-for-3, all singles, for the Lady Blue Jays (4-13).
Westminster freshman starter Brittany Lee was pinned with the loss, giving up four earned runs on eight hits in five innings. Lee (2-6) walked three and struck out two.
Lee - playing second base - went 2-for-2 as the Lady Blue Jays were also held to four hits in the nightcap. Westminster manufactured its only run in the third when sophomore third baseman Riley Zull, who was 1-for-2, started the inning with a single and eventually scored on a two-out throwing error.
Harris also finished 1-for-3.
Sophomore starter Madison Yant took the loss for the Lady Blue Jays, surrendering six earned runs on six hits in just 2 2/3 innings. Yant (0-3) had one strikeout and one walk.
With the sweep, Washington improved to 26-7-1 on the season.
Westminster plays a doubleheader at Hanover (Ind.) College at 3:30 p.m. today. The Lady Blue Jays then travel to Louisville, Ky., for a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader against Spalding University at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Hough, Owls golf team
place fourth at tourney
WARRENSBURG - Junior Morgan Hough tied for fifth place individually and the William Woods University men's golf team finished fourth as the Heart of America Invitational wrapped up Tuesday.
Hough shot a three-day total of 214 (71-73-70), coming in four shots behind individual co-champions Joe Migdal and Laurence Noott, both of the University of Central Missouri. The Owls compiled a team score of 884 (293-296-295), finishing 32 strokes behind team champion Central Missouri (852).
The tournament field included nine NCAA Division II schools.
William Woods senior Austin Waibel tied for 14th with a 219 (71-75-73).
The Owls play in the Hannibal-LaGrange University Spring Invitational on Monday and Tuesday.