The Hornets scored seven unanswered runs in outlasting the Thunderbirds 11-6 in the semifinals of the 20th-annual Fulton Invitational Tournament on Monday at the high school athletic complex.
Fulton opened tournament play with a 4-2 North Central Missouri Conference win over the Moberly Spartans while North Callaway thumped the Fatima Comets 13-4 in its opener at Saucier Field on the campus of Westminster.
The Hornets (12-9) will play in the tournament championship at 7 p.m. on Friday, while the T-Birds (12-7) will vie for third place at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
The Comets thumped Moberly 10-0 in the consolation bracket on Monday. Hallsville and Eldon will play a first-round game at the high school athletic complex at 2 p.m. today, while Mexico and Southern Boone will clash in the other first-round game to be played at 2 p.m. today at Saucier Field.
The winners will meet at the high school for the right to play Fulton for the tournament title while the loser will face North Callaway in the third-place game.
The Hornets - down 6-3 to the T-Birds to start the fifth - got a lead-off triple to right field by senior center fielder Kory Masek. Senior first baseman Tyler Echelmeier reached on a fielder's choice while Masek was tagged out at home. Junior Blake Thompson doubled to left field to score Echelmeier then scored on a single to left from sophomore third baseman Trenton Clines.
Clines came home on an error by North Callaway to tie the game at 6-all.
Thompson knocked a two-run triple to left field to drive in Echelmeier and senior shortstop Dalton Horstmeier to put Fulton up 8-6 with two outs in the sixth. Sophomore right fielder Zach Franklin drew a bases-loaded walk to up the Hornets' advantage to three runs and Clines added another RBI base hit to left to bring in Franklin and make it a 10-6 edge.
Kory Masek topped off the Fulton scoring with an RBI single to right to close out the Hornets' 10-hit attack.
"I was very impressed; we had good at-bats and we hit the ball up and down the lineup," Fulton head coach Darren Masek said.
Horstmeier was 2-for-3 with an RBI, Thompson was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Clines finished 2-for-4.
Thompson got the win in relief, throwing 4 1/3 innings, giving up an earned run on four hits, walking one and striking out four.
Junior reliever Paul Zerr threw four innings in getting tagged with the loss. Zerr struck out seven, walked two and gave up three runs - two earned - on three hits.
Zerr finished 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI, while senior shortstop Nathaniel VanBoening was 2-for-4 with a double as the T-Birds matched the Hornets with 10 hits.
Clines' two-run single with two outs in the top of the third was the difference maker as Fulton upended Moberly in their first-round game.
Clines singled to center field to drive in Kory Masek and freshman pinch-runner Josh Quick to push the Hornets to a 3-2 advantage.
Horstmeier drove in the final run with two gone in the sixth on a double to right to bring in freshman pinch-runner Devin Masek.
Echelmeier logged the win on the mound for Fulton, throwing five innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits. Echelmeier - who allowed both runs in the first inning - walked one and finished with six strikeouts.
"Tyler had to pitch out of a lot of jams; he got into trouble with hits and walked batters, but he hung in there and gave us five strong innings," Darren Masek said.
The Hornets out-hit the Spartans 6-5. Sophomore second baseman Tristan Steffens was 1-for-1 while Clines, Echelmeier, Horstmeier, Masek and freshman catcher Isaiah Pani were all 1-for-3.
Crisp and Kee had three hits apiece and North Callaway had a season-high 16 in its flattening of Fatima.
Zerr opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the top of the first inning to push the T-Birds out to an early lead.
Junior left fielder Cole Branson singled in Murphy in the second to up North Callaway's advantage to 3-0. Kee doubled in Branson while Zerr singled in VanBoening and Kee to give the T-Birds a 6-0 edge. Fatima cut the deficit to 6-2 with runs in the third and fourth, but the North Callaway added four runs in the fourth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh.
The Comets added their final two runs in the seventh.
Kee was 3-for-4 wth a double and three RBIs while Crisp topped out with a 3-for-5 day. Murphy and Zerr were both 2-for-3 while freshman catcher Wyatt Branson was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a home run.
Murphy took the win on the mound with five innings of work. Murphy allowed two earned runs, gave up five hits, walked one and struck out four.
"(It) was two different types of games," T-Birds head coach Kevin O'Neal said of his team's two games. "The first game we never gave up an at-bat and everyone was into the game offensively and defensively.
"(In the second game) in the last three innings, everybody made a mistake either hitting, fielding or not being where they're supposed to be."
North Callaway plays a make-up Eastern Missouri Conference game at home against Van-Far at 5 p.m. today.