Missed opportunities cost Pirates in extra-inning loss to Hawks


Hannibal's Waylon Anders connects for a hit during Friday's game against Hillsboro at the Veterans Sports Complex in Hannibal, Mo. | Shane Hulsey photo

HANNIBAL, Mo. — No baseball team in Hannibal High School history has ever won 20 games in a season. That will remain the case for at least one more day.

The Pirates had a chance to become the first team to reach the 20-victory plateau Friday, but Hillsboro edged out them 2-1 in eight innings at the Veterans Sports Complex. Saturday’s 10 a.m. matchup at home against Illini West is the next shot at history.

“We’re hungry to get 20,” Hannibal coach Ian Hatton said. “We’ve already won the conference, and we feel like we’re in a really good spot for the district tournament in the first round and beyond. To get to 20 would build a lot of momentum for us going into the playoffs.”

Friday’s game had a playoff feel.

“It hurts to lose a 2-1 game, but against that kind of opponent with district caliber pitching and one of the toughest lineups we’ve seen up and down, one of the best defenses, it was a well-played game overall,” Hatton said. “Sometimes you just come out on the short end.”

Pirates sophomore first baseman Cooper Scott felt this game carried high intensity from start to finish.

“There were zeros on the board for most of the game, one-run leads and good pitching on both sides, so yeah, I think this is how our (district) game next week will be,” Scott said.

Scott contributed to that drama in the eighth inning and gave the Pirates their best scoring opportunity. Leading off the inning with the Pirates trailing 2-1, Scott roped a single to right field and advanced to third after the ball got past Hawks right fielder Brendan Poyner.

Waylon Anders popped out to Hillsboro catcher Zach Partney, who braced himself against the fence near the first base dugout before stumbling backward to make the catch. Hawks pitcher Dominic Sutton struck out Kane Wilson and Colton Dryden — the No. 3 and No. 4 hitters in the Pirates’ lineup — to end the game.

“To have a guy get all the way to third base leading off that inning where we know we need at least one run to extend the game, I feel like everybody thought we had a good chance to win it with who was coming up after that,” Hatton said. “It just didn’t go our way. Baseball is a tough game especially in these high-pressure situations.”

The Pirates could have been in a deeper hole if not for the defensive play of Patrick Arthaud, who entered the game as a pinch hitter for Reid Holliday in the bottom of the seventh. 

With the score tied at 1 entering the top of the eighth, Pirates reliever Ryan Ross walked Keynan Drury to begin the inning, then hit Partney and gave up a single to Gavin Hite on a short pop up that landed between Arthaud at second base and right fielder Konnor Asbury.

Ross struck out Poyner, setting up a bases loaded, one-out opportunity for Hawks leadoff hitter Cohen Linderer. Facing an 0-2 count, Linderer hit a sharp ground ball to Arthaud’s right. Arthaud made a headlong dive, smothered the ball, popped to his feet, and got the only he could at first. Ross was thankful for Arthaud’s effort to keep the inning from getting away from the Pirates.

“That was a big game changer,” Ross said. “I was really pumped up that he saved that.”

Despite the defensive effort, the Pirates (19-13) saddled themselves with limited opportunities to score. Hannibal went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position and 2 for 10 with runners on base. Dryden delivered that lone hit with runners in scoring position with a two-out, two-strike double in the bottom of the sixth that scored Anders and tied the game at 1.

“After Waylon scored there, I think the dugout knew that we were kind of in control,” Dryden said. “We had the momentum and felt like we could easily win this game if we string a couple things together. Before that, we weren’t quite as energized as we usually are, but I don’t know if that’s just from not hitting or what.”

Dryden struck out seven batters and gave up one run in five innings on the mound. The lone run he surrendered came in the fourth when he hit Partney with a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs. Dryden fought through some knee soreness and admitted he didn’t have his A+ stuff on Friday, he worked his way out of multiple jams to strand six runners on base. 

“I have to be grateful for only giving up one run today,” Dryden said. “If you just throw strikes and just your defense around you, you should be fine. I can’t really be mad at all with my effort today.”

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