Grand slam sinks Wright City in loss to Elsberry

By John Rohlf, Sports Editor
Posted 4/26/23

Wright City was unable to hold a late lead in last week’s back-and-forth conference clash with Elsberry. 

Wright City (8-6) fell to Elsberry (14-4) 14-11 in last week’s Eastern …

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Grand slam sinks Wright City in loss to Elsberry


Wright City was unable to hold a late lead in last week’s back-and-forth conference clash with Elsberry. 

Wright City (8-6) fell to Elsberry (14-4) 14-11 in last week’s Eastern Missouri Conference game. Wright City led 10-9 heading into the final inning. Elsberry loaded the bases on a pair of singles and an error. With a full count and one out, Elsberry’s Kayden Kinsler hit a grand slam over the right field fence against Wright City’s Jake Mitts. 

“Hindsight’s 20-20 right? I wish I would have thrown a fastball instead of a curve,” Wright City baseball coach Ryan Raterman said. “Because 99 out of 100 people are sitting fastball there. I guess maybe he sat curve. Obviously, because you don’t hit a ball like that unless you’re sitting offspeed. So kudos to him man. That was a heck of a baseball play.”

Elsberry’s Gavin Woodson followed the grand slam with a solo home run to give the Indians a 14-10 lead and chase Mitts from the game. Despite loading the bases in the seventh inning, Raterman liked what he saw from Mitts leading up to the back-to-back home runs. 

“They weren’t hitting it that well,” Raterman said. “With the wind 40 miles per hour out, those weren’t all real. And then even though it says in the scorebook too, I felt ok leaving him out there and trusted our guy. He wanted the ball too. Kinsler put a good swing on it and hit it out.”

Wright City mounted a rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring one run and bringing the tying run to the on-deck circle. After Elsberry’s Gavin Marshall retired Mitts and Zach Rodriguez to start the inning, Wright City’s Blaine Niemann singled and Devin Foust reached on a walk. Jack Goughenour ran for Niemann and scored later in the inning. Foust got to third base with leadoff hitter Duan McRoberts at the plate. McRoberts lined out sharply to shortstop on a 2-2 count to end the game. 

“I’m proud of our guys at the bottom of our lineup to turn it over to the top of our lineup and give us a chance,” Raterman said. We scratched one across. We brought Duan up and we had 2-3-4. I think if Duan gets on and Nick (Moore) gets on, I think it’s a totally different ballgame. Duan hits a missile to the shortstop who makes a good play. At the end of the day, they made plays and we had a chance to win it. We didn’t. Sometimes it’s just how the cookie crumbles.”

Last week’s conference clash included multiple lead changes in the first four innings. After falling behind 3-0 in the first inning, Wright City responded with three runs in the second inning to tie the game. Jake Orf scored after Niemann was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Both Micah Boeckman and Mitts scored on McRoberts’ infield single. Elsberry regained the lead in the top of the third inning before Wright City responded with four runs in the third inning. Moore led off the inning with a solo home run, his first of the season. The Wildcats added runs on RBI singles from Orf and Bryce Williams. Boeckman scored on a wild pitch. After Elsberry scored four in the fourth to take an 8-7 lead, Wright City scored three runs in the fourth inning to take a 10-8 lead. Moore, Orf and Williams each had an RBI single.

 All three runs came after a lengthy delay in Wright City’s half of the fourth inning. With one out, McRoberts hit a line drive down the right field line. After initially being called out at third base trying to stretch a double into a triple, McRoberts was awarded a ground rule double after it was determined the ball made contact with the tarp. 

“During ground rules before the game, we usually have a tighter tarp roll,” Raterman said. “But that 70 miles per hour winds that came through here kind of pushed it up and I said at the beginning of the game, I said if it gets in there, just kill it. I don’t want you digging. And I think that kid just picked it up in there and played it. Where my argument was we talked at ground rules, we’re just killing it because we want to keep our tarp nice.”

Wright City leaned on Trey Brakensiek and Mitts on the mound for the majority of last week’s game. Both pitchers threw at least three innings. Ace Hayden Waters, who is starting to throw innings after nursing an injury earlier this season, did not pitch in the game. While Waters could have thrown in last week’s game, Raterman did not want to put Waters in a high stress environment and risk Waters possibly getting injured. 

Despite the loss, Raterman believes Wednesday’s high intensity game can help the Wildcats down the road. 

“We’re going to sit them down and just remember this feeling... The guys will respond because nobody likes to lose,” Raterman said. “We’re going to go out and turn the table and go win some more ball games.”