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OHS Team Pic Busch for web

Bulldogs Conquer Busch Stadium

By Jason Van Arkel, July 02, 2018

From the pregame warmups to the roster introductions, there was no question that Saturday night’s game at Busch Stadium was already a very special night for the Ottumwa baseball team. With players appearing on the larger-than-life video board and occupying the dugouts of the pros, they accumulated enough memories to last a lifetime before the game’s first pitch.

image3Then the Bulldogs went out and won the ballgame in dramatic fashion.

Ottumwa plated two runs in the top of the ninth on a throwing error, and held on to knock off Mount Pleasant 8-6 in a game that didn’t end until 12:39 Sunday morning. The contest began at 10:14 Saturday night, a little less than an hour after the completion of the MLB game between the Cardinals and the Braves.

Zach Burtch started the decisive rally with a leadoff walk in the top of the ninth against Bryce Anderson (1-1), and went to second when Jacob Brownlee was hit by a pitch. Treyton Larkin pinch-ran for Brownlee, and Jahrett Van Engelenhoven laid down a sacrifice bunt attempt. Mount Pleasant reliever Corbin Broeker tried to throw Burtch out at third, but his throw sailed down the left field line, allowing both Burtch and Larkin to score.

Christian Howard (1-0) pitched the final two innings to earn the win for Ottumwa. He worked around a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth. Catcher Tyler Ward made a solid play for the final out, fielding a slow roller up the third base line and throwing out pinch-hitter Brennen Bender at first by an eyelash.

Click here to listen to a rebroadcast of the game from 1240 AM / 102.7 FM KBIZ

OHS, after losing an early 4-0 lead, found itself trailing the Panthers 6-4 going to the top of the seventh. The game was scheduled for nine innings, but because a normal high school game lasts seven frames, the score at the end of the seventh would have been the official score if one team had been ahead. Ottumwa, however, loaded the bases with two out, and Conner Riley coaxed an RBI walk to bring the Bulldogs within a run at 6-5. Larkin followed with an RBI infield single to tie the game at six. Larkin was Ottumwa’s brightest star on offense, going 2-for-3 with two RBI, three runs scored and three stolen bases.

The Bulldogs dominated the first three innings, thanks in part to starting pitcher Jarrett Blunt. The senior hit the first batter he faced, but escaped the first inning with a strikeout and a double play. He set the Panthers down in order for the next two innings, and finished his night on the mound by striking out five over three innings without allowing a hit.

The Ottumwa offense missed an opportunity in the second inning, failing to score after getting a runner to third with one out, but they converted for the game’s first run an inning later. Ward’s two-out RBI single scored Larkin, who had started the inning with a walk and a stolen base. Some good fortune helped the Bulldogs score three more times in the top of the fourth. Larkin hit an RBI single, and then with two out, Jaylen Jones hit a low line drive to right field that Noah Walls lost sight of in the lights. He dove for the ball, but it skipped past him for a two-run triple.

Mount Pleasant, though, roared back in the bottom of the fourth. Rylen Seberg and Cooper Huckabone hit back-to-back triples with one out, and a Caleb Potts single plated the second run. The Panthers then loaded the bases with two out, before the good fortune Ottumwa had in the top of the inning betrayed them in the bottom half. Zach Beason hit a one-hop liner to left, and as Van Engelenhoven came in to field it, he slipped and fell, allowing the ball to bounce behind him for a three-run triple.

Now leading 5-4 after four innings, Mount Pleasant tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Joey Mitchell retired the first two Panther hitters, but Mount Pleasant then put together three straight hits, the last being an RBI single by Walls to make the score 6-4. Mitchell managed to retire Jordan Magnani to strand another runner at third, setting the stage for Ottumwa’s rally in the seventh.

Larkin, Ward and Dillon Berg each had a 2-hit game for Ottumwa, while Larkin and Jones each had two RBI. Ottumwa improved to 22-11 on the season, while Mount Pleasant dropped to 18-11.