MARYVILLE, Mo. – The Northwest Missouri State Bearcats ended a two-game losing streak Sunday afternoon at Bearcat Field with a 14-9 win over the Washburn Ichabods.
Northwest rallied three different times to re-take the lead. The 14 runs were the most scored by the Bearcats since scoring 19 against Northeastern Oklahoma in late February.
“Mostly we just stayed within ourselves, we knew we could hit and we’ve been waiting for this offense to come alive all year,” Connor Quick said. “Coach (Darin) Loe is always talking about trusting the process and I think today we trusted the process and got a lot better.”
The onslaught of runs started in the second inning when Rorey Combs drove in Javis Larson to give the Ichabods an early lead. Bearcat catcher Alixon Herrera attempted to throw out Mitchell Lady trying to take second, but a throwing error allowed Washburn to score their second run.
Northwest began the bottom of the second inning with Herrera reaching on a throwing error. Matt Gastner drew a walk to give the Bearcats runners on first and second. Following a strikeout, Mondesi Gutierrez loaded the bases with a single. It was all for not, though, as Derek Hussey popped out to right field to end the inning.
Bearcat starter Max Spitzmiller had his first clean inning in the third. Spitzmiller came into Sunday’s start with an 8.60 ERA and zero wins. Northwest as a team has struggled through the first half of the season with a team ERA of 6.76.
“We’ve just talked about throwing quality pitches for strikes, when we do that we’re successful and when we don’t do that we struggle,” Bearcat coach Darin Loe said. “I think a lot of it is just repetition, just trying to get on the same schedule and some warmer weather.”
The Northwest offense took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the third. Logan Rycraft began the inning with a walk. Peter Carlson moved Rycraft to third with a single on a hit-and-run play. Third baseman Calvin Rudolph loaded the bases with a walk. Quick then cleared the bases with an RBI double, giving the Bearcats a 3-2 lead. Herrera drove in Quick for the final run of the inning with a single.
The scoring came to a halt for a few innings, but got off to a big start in the top of the sixth. Brady Hoover started the top of the sixth with a line-drive home run over the left field fence. Washburn then added two runners with a single and a walk. The Ichabods regained the lead with Wyatt Featherston’s RBI double.
After allowing the three runs in the sixth, Spitzmiller was pulled and replaced with Gibson Brown. Spitzmiller pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on six hits. Brown closed the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.
The back-and-forth continued in the bottom of the sixth as the Bearcats took their turn at stealing the lead. Rudolph did the most damage with an RBI double, scoring Rycraft and Hussey.
Washburn had its best offensive inning of the game in the top of the seventh — scoring four runs on four hits. The biggest of the hits came from catcher Michael Oyervides who had a three-run homerun.
The three-run deficit was again quickly erased by the Northwest offense. Gastner and Jay Hrdlicka each reached bases to start the inning. The two spent little time on base as Gutierrez sent them home with a three-run homerun to tie the game at nine.
Hussey and Rycraft quickly re-stocked the bases with back-to-back singles. Carlson gave Northwest the lead for good with a sacrifice bunt that scored Hussey.
The offense continued to pour it on in the bottom of the eighth, beginning with a double from Quick. Quick led the way for the Bearcats, going three-for-five with a double and a triple.
“He’s really seeing the ball well, obviously and had some good swings today,” Loe said.
Herrera drove in Quick for his second RBI of the game. Gastner, Hussey and Rycraft followed suit with RBI singles. Rudolph was unable to knock in any runs in the final inning, but does believe this is the type of offense that they could play more often.
“We got to keep having energy and we’ve really worked on that in the field,” Rudolph said. “As far as the hitters go, we’ve had good energy in the box and really focusing on every pitch, getting our pitch and finding barrels.”
The series will continue Monday afternoon with a double-header at Bearcat field. The first game is set for noon with the second to follow right after. Northwest knows how important winning this series is to getting back into the MIAA race.
“Pretty much from here on out, every series is important and we can’t take any games lightly with these guys right around us (in the MIAA standings) so it’s nice to pick up some wins,” Quick said.