The College of the Ozarks Baseball team took advantage of a warm February Weekend to open the 2024 campaign.
The Bobcats opened with four games against Columbia College and will also play at home this weekend entertaining York College.
The details on the opening games are below from C of O Sports Information:
On an unseasonably warm February weekend, the College of the Ozarks Baseball Bobcats opened the 2024 campaign at Coach Bob Smith Field on the C of O Campus. With a good crowd taking advantage of the spring-like weather, the Bobcats were set to host a tough NAIA opponent, the Cougars of Columbia College.
Game 1 – Thursday, February 1
The Bobcats sent Brody Baumann to the mound to start the season and the Bobcats wasted no time putting up an early lead. Baumann pitched around an error, a hit and a walk in the opening frame and Jake Leeker opened the bottom half with a double to left center. Caleb Johnson picked up his first RBI of the season with a single up the middle and the Bobcats were on the board. Chuck Hill doubled in the third, but was left stranded, and Baumann continued to take care of business on the mound. Rhett Hill was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the fourth and came around to score on a Cougar error. With the Bobcats leading 2-0 heading to the fifth, the Cougars began to come to life. Four singles and a double later, the Cougars took a 4-2 lead and turned the tables on the Bobcats. Weston Whiteside took over for Baumann in the inning and there was now work to do on the offensive side. A Spencer Greene single would be the only offense for the Cats until the seventh and Whiteside held the Cougars in check the rest of the way. A Zane Kelley pinch-hit double opened the seventh inning rally and a Chuck Hill single moved the runner to third. Caleb Johnson picked up his second RBI with a deep, one-out, sacrifice fly and the Bobcats were one run away from extending the game. The next battler was retired, and the Cougars took game one 4-3.
Chuck Hill (2B) picked up a pair of hits and Johnson had one hit to go with his two RBI’s. Jake Leeker (2B), Spencer Greene, and Zane Kelley (2B) each added a hit to for the Bobcat offense.
Game 2 – Thursday, February 1
Tyler Buchanan took the mound for game two and the Bobcats were looking to bounce back from the game one loss. The Cougars jumped on the board early when a Bobcat miscue was followed by an RBI double. The Bobcat bats were silent as the Cougars continued to attack. A walk, a trio of extra-base hits and a single led to four more tallies for the visitors and an early 5-0 hole. Another run crossed in the top of the third and a handful of Bobcat pitchers made their season debut as the Cougars added to their run total. The Bobcats created some offense in the bottom half of the third with a two out Jake Leeker walk and a single off the bat of Chuck Hill. The next batter was retired, however, and the Bobcats remained scoreless. The Cougars tacked on another pair of runs in the fourth and the Bobcats could only muster a Spencer Greene double and a walk issued to Charlie Parker. Columbia College was held off the board in the fifth and the Bobcats used a Hunter Lewis single, a walk to Greene, and an RBI double by Chuck Hill to break through the scoring column. The Cougars added another run in the sixth and the Bobcats matched it in their half. Walks to Zane Kelley, Aaron Fisher, and Jake Leeker were mixed in with a Cougar error to give the Bobcats an additional run. The Cougars put the game out of reach in the top of the seventh by adding four more runs to their total. The bobcats picked up a run with a Caleb Johnson walk and a stolen base, followed by a Spencer Greene RBI single. It was not enough, and the Cougars took game two, 13-3.
Chuck Hill (2B) and Spencer Greene (2B) led the offensive effort with a pair of hits each and Hunter Lewis recorded the only other Bobcat hit.
Game 3 – Friday, February 2
With a new day dawning, the Bobcats were set to take on the Cougars in the final two games of the series.
Rhett Hill took the ball for the Bobcats, and he was tasked with slowing down the Cougar offense. He pitched around a two-out double in the first to throw up a zero and the Bobcats threatened with a Jake Leeker walk, a Chuck Hill single, and a walk to Spencer Greene in the bottom of the first. The big hit was elusive, and the game moved to the second inning with no score. The zeros continued until the third when Jake Leeker and Chuck Hill singled, and Caleb Johnson smacked a ball to the right side to score a run. Charlie Parker came through with a two out RBI single and the Bobcats held a 2-0 lead. Offense was at a premium for both teams until the Cougars jumped on the board in the fifth with a two-run homer. The Bobcats picked up singles by Caleb Johnson and Spencer Greene, but they were left stranded. The game moved to the sixth knotted at two apiece. The Cougars were shut down in the top of the inning and the Bobcats could only manage a Logan Daniels single. The tension mounted heading to the seventh and Hill had given way to the Bobcat bullpen. The Cougars found their groove and erupted for six runs and the Bobcats were on the ropes. Singles by Chuck Hill and Caleb Johnson produced a run but that was all they could get, and the game ended with the Cougars leading 8-3.
Chuck Hill led the offensive attack again with three hits and a pair of runs scored, while Caleb Johnson contributed a pair of hits of his own. Jake Leeker, Spencer Greene, Charlie Parker, and Logan Daniels each recorded a hit and the Bobcats needed to regroup for game four.
Game 4 – Friday, February 2
The Bobcats turned to Spencer Greene on the mound to turn the tide in game four. With the Cougar offense seemingly clicking, that would not be an easy task.
The Cougars struck first and used a pair of doubles to put a run on the board in the opening frame. The Bobcats responded with Chuck Hill reaching on an error followed by singles by Caleb Johnson, Spencer Greene, and Charlie Parker, with a Hunter Lewis walk mixed in. The Bobcats battled for two runs and took the 2-1 lead to the second inning. The Cougars were taken care of in their half of the second and the Bobcats were limited to a Jake Leeker walk and a Chuck Hill single. The Cougars used a pair of hits to score the tying run in the top of the third and the battle was on. A Charlie Parker single was the extent of the offense until the fifth. The Cougars picked up a pair of hits and scored a run to take the upper hand. A Chuck Hill single started the Bobcat offense and an RBI single off the bat of Spencer Greene tied the score 3-3. A hit by pitch and another single would be all the Bobcats would get and the game moved to the sixth. A two-run dinger for the Cougars returned the lead to the visitors and the Bobcats needed to answer again. Zane Kelley led off with a double and Rhett Hill drew a walk. Chuck Hill ripped a double and Kelley scored to cut the gap to 5-4. The Cougars closed the door, and it would come down to the final inning if the Bobcats were going to come from behind. The Cougars wasted little time adding some insurance and they strung together several hits to build a 9-4 lead. The Bobcats were kept silent in the seventh and the Cougars took the finale, 9-4.
Chuck Hill completed a monster series with another 3-4 (2B) performance and Charlie Parker turned in a three-hit performance of his own. Spencer Greene added two hits and a solid outing on the mound, and Caleb Johnson and Zane Kelley (2B) each added a hit.
Chuck Hill finished the series hitting .625 and earning Continental Athletic Conference Hitter of the Week honors.
The Bobcats will return to action this weekend when they host York University in a Friday/Saturday series.