The Fulton Hornets took what they were given at the plate Monday and defeated the Mexico Bulldogs 10-6 to advance into the winner's bracket of the 26th annual Fulton Tournament at Darrell Davis Field.
Fulton hitters drew 12 walks and were able hit with the bases loaded on multiple occasions, including a grand slam by junior Josh Dunmire.
Fulton coach John Brinkmann liked the team's approach at the plate and how players were aggressive at the right moments.
"We didn't chase, and we took our walks when (the pitcher) gave them to us," Brinkmann said. "That really forced (the pitcher) into throwing strikes with runners on base, and we did a good job of hitting when we got them on."
It was Fulton's second win in four days against Mexico, claiming a 7-5 win Friday in North Central Missouri Conference play.
The Hornets got on the board early in the first inning when junior Allen Walker drew Fulton's first walk in the game and his first of four walks. Fulton's starting pitcher in Friday's game, sophomore Dustin Hagens, was able to drive him in to make it 1-0 Fulton.
Mexico had a chance to do some damage in the bottom of the second inning when it had the bases loaded with one out, but Fulton junior pitcher Ryan Newman was able to pitch out of the jam, leaving all three Bulldogs on base.
Fulton drew three walks to load the bases in the bottom of the inning, leaving junior Curtis Humphries with a golden opportunity as he stepped to the plate. Humphries delivered by hitting a single to score two runs, and another runner from third was able to score on a fielder's choice to make it 4-1.
"Curtis has been big for us all year," Brinkmann said. "He seems to be pretty clutch with runners on base, and he did it again tonight."
Newman held Mexico hitless until the bottom of the third inning, when he allowed a one-out single to Jesse Fennewald. Fennewald scored the team's first run, but the Hornets got out of the inning with a caught stealing at second base.
Brinkmann said his pitchers, Newman and Walker, were key in the team's victory, as the Hornets pitching staff only walked three batters. Newman finished his outing with 4 innings pitched, three hits, four strikeouts and two runs, and his pitch count allows him to be available to throw again Friday for the Hornets.
Walker went 2 innings, giving up three hits, one walk and three runs in relief.
Fulton had another bases-loaded, one-out situation in the fourth inning, with junior Lincoln Smith and Walker each drawing a walk. Dunmire came up to the plate after a hit by pitch and strikeout in his first two plate appearances and crushed the ball over the left-field fence for a grand slam, increasing Fulton's lead to 8-1.
"Anytime a home run happens is always fun," Brinkmann said. "But when the bases are loaded, especially because I had (Dunmire) bunting the first at bat and then he comes back and hits a grand slam, it's huge."
Fulton was able to stave off a late Mexico rally, as the Bulldogs were able to score five runs in the final three innings. This was led by Fennewald's bases-clearing triple with two outs in the sixth inning.
Fulton was able to score a couple insurance runs in the seventh off of a wild pitch and an RBI single by Walker, his first official at-bat after his four walks, to secure the win.
The Hornets (7-13) will be back in action at 4 p.m. today against Class 4 No. 5 Southern Boone (19-2), which won its first-round game against Moberly 12-1 in five innings in Ashland.
Brinkmann said the fifth-seeded Hornets will have a tough test in the top-seeded Eagles, who have won 15 of their last 16 games.
"We're going to have to have a very good approach at the plate because they throw a lot of strikes and are always ready to hit," he said. "Hopefully, if we play like we did tonight with the same intensity, we should come out with a pretty good result."
Fulton lost 13-2 at Southern Boone back in March. The Hornets have won four of their last six games.
Mexico (8-10) will face Moberly (4-13) at 4 p.m. today at Southern Boone in the loser's bracket semifinals.
In Monday's other first-round games of the tournament, second-seeded Fatima topped seventh-seeded North Callaway 12-4, while sixth-seeded Eldon upset third-seeded Hallsville 3-2.