AUXVASSE -- In 69 minutes, the North Callaway Thunderbirds run-ruled the Van-Far Indians, scoring 12 runs in the first inning and four in the second.
The Thunderbirds' offensive onslaught led to a 16-1 Eastern Missouri Conference Opener victory after 2 1/2 innings against Van-Far Wednesday at North Callaway's baseball field.
It wasn't just the offense North Callaway executed well; its pitching did just as well. Thunderbirds starter Carter Moore pitched a complete-game victory, pitching three innings and allowing one earned run on one hit and four walks while making 7-of-9 outs on strikeouts.
"He's a guy who probably has not gotten on the mound as much as his arm talent probably deserves because he's kind of been our rock behind the dish," North Callaway coach Zeth Lavy said. "Catching the last few years, started opening day as a freshman back there, so he's, he's kind of gotten lost in that role because we have quite a few quality arms, but tonight was a good time to get another guy back catching to kind of see what that looked like.
"And he forgot who has done most of his work for us in the bullpen. I thought he did a good job in some game action, kind of understanding what he needed to do come at hitters. Not try to nitpick; just fill up his stuff. One of the better on our team in the game like that if he can just fill up the zone with his stuff. That as a result, I thought he did a good job of that."
From start to finish, Moore had his stuff working for him as the North Callaway pitcher struck out the side in the top of the first. The Indians recorded their only hit that frame, with Nikos Connaway beating the throw from the Thunderbirds' shortstop for a single.
Following the top half, the Thunderbirds hitters got their bats going in the bottom half of the first. North Callaway scored 12 runs on four hits (two extra-base hits -- a double and triple), four walks and two errors.
Keaton Bell scored North Callaway's first run, reaching home on Kyle Pennell's groundout to the pitcher for the second out; Bell stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch in the previous at-bat.
Braydn O'Neal was at the plate when Bell advanced two bases, and the future Columbia College Cougar also reached home on a wild pitch during Matthew Weber's first plate appearance. That made it 2-0, and it was the first of 11 runs the Thunderbirds scored with two outs in the first.
After O'Neal scored, North Callaway added its subsequent six runs on a Moore RBI single to left field, an AJ Siegel walk, a Bell 2-RBI single to shallow right, an O'Neal walk and a Pennell fielder's choice to the shortstop.
All those runs proceeded the biggest blast of the inning, a 3-RBI triple by Weber to deep right that gave the Thunderbirds a double-digit lead at 11-0. Weber notched each of North Callaway's extra-base hits in the first, doubling to deep center in his first at-bat.
"Matthew is kind of a guy; he's really meticulous about his swing," Lavy said. "He's trying to tweak different things all the time."
Weber also capped off the scoring by sprinting to home on a wild pitch during Davis Woods's at-bat. North Callaway totaled 16 plate appearances in the first.
After Van-Far struggled offensively in the top of the second, the Thunderbirds tacked on another four runs to their lead. Those four runs came from three hits -- including two doubles -- and four walks.
Carsyn Sheets plated North Callaway's first run of the second on AJ Haubner's groundout to second.
O'Neal came to the plate following that play, and the Thunderbirds' shortstop drove in a run while using his speed to get a double on his hit to shallow right-center.
While that double may have been his only hit, O'Neal reached base in all three plate appearances and scored three times.
"I thought his double -- or whatever you want to call it there --was probably my favorite play the game because it was 12 or something above that, and that's a guy who's signed to go play college baseball," Lavy said. "And he busts his butt out of the box in a game that is, you know, all but over. That's what you want out of your leaders, and I just thought that that play stood out to me most of out of this game."
O'Neal scored for the final time on Caleb Sheets's 2-RBI double right at the Indians' left fielder. That concluded North Callaway's scoring.
Once the Thunderbirds ended their scoring, Van-Far started to do so. After he reached first on a leadoff walk, the Indians' Gage Gibson stole second during the second at-bat and scored on the third when Connaway grounded out to second.
Van-Far needed another run to keep the game going for at least another two frames, but that didn't happen.
The Indians' Jake Radmacher took the loss, pitching two innings and allowing 16 runs on seven hits and 11 walks.
As Radmacher didn't record a strikeout, Van-Far had to make outs with its fielders.
The fielder involved in the most outs was a girl on the Indians' team -- sophomore first baseman Dolana Gay. She caught the ball and stepped on first for all three of the Indian's made-outs in the second, receiving a throw each from the third baseman, shortstop, and second baseman; also, Gay didn't commit an error when Van-Far had two.
Meanwhile, Connaway was the only Van-Far hitter to put the ball in play, and he did it twice while recording the team's only hit.
No strikeouts and one hit for the Indians weren't nearly enough to answer the Thunderbirds, who easily won the game.
With the result, North Callaway reaches .500 at 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the EMO, while Van-Far stays winless at 0-3 overall and 0-1 in EMO play.
"A win is a win whether it's by a run or 100 runs," Lavy said. "No matter if it's the St. Louis Cardinals over there or whoever you're playing, a win is hard to do. Being 1-0 in conference, probably not winning the thing if you don't win these games."
Next, North Callaway will hope to keep its strong EMO start going as it hosts the Wright City Wildcats (0-3) at 5 p.m. Thursday in Auxvasse. All three of the Wildcats' losses have come against unbeaten teams, dropping two in a doubleheader at Class 5 St. Francis Borgia (4-0), while its other one was a 7-0 home defeat to Class 5 Rockwood Summit (3-0).
"A really well-coached team," Lavy said. "That guy has been there four years, and he's really turned the program around. They like to run a lot. They do a lot of bunting for hits, big bunting for runs -- stuff you don't see a ton. They play a little different brand of baseball, not in a bad way. It's an exciting way to play, and they do it really well. So we're gonna have to be solid defensively; we're gonna have to keep runners close. And we have to put some runs up because they like to take a lot of bags and score a lot of runs."