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Russellville falls to Eureka and Kirksville in Classic

by Trevor Hahn | April 8, 2023 at 12:44 a.m.
Russellville's Luke Oligschlaeger pitches to Kirksville’s Drew Chrisman during the fourth inning of Friday night’s pool-play game of the Jays Baseball Classic at the American Legion Post 5 Sports Complex.

It was not the day the Russellville Indians wanted Friday in Day 2 of the Jays Baseball Classic at the American Legion Post 5 Sports Complex.

After winning in walk-off fashion against the Fatima Comets to open the Classic on Thursday, the Indians dropped a 7-0 decision to the Eureka Wildcats and an 8-5 final to the Kirksville Tigers to close out pool play.

Russellville fell behind in both games and was never quite able to recover in each contest.

“Typically, the team that scores first establishes that early momentum,” Russellville coach Lucas Branson said. “That is what happened to us today.”

In a state-ranked matchup against Eureka, the Wildcats put the pressure on the Indians in the opening inning.

After a scoreless top half, Eureka -- ranked No. 10 in Class 6 -- was able to jump out to a 2-0 lead on RBI base hits from Dakota Joggerst and Gavin Bradley.

Russellville, ranked No. 1 in Class 2, had chances to push across runs but was never able to get the big hit.

The Indians had two runners on in each of the second and third innings and loaded the bases in the fourth, but every opportunity fell short.

“It was a little disappointing in that game that we had some scoring chances to try and turn the pressure around and put it back on them instead of the pressure being on us,” Branson said. “After falling down 2-0 in the first inning, we had some scoring opportunities in the early part of the game and didn’t capitalize on that and that is unfortunate.”

The Wildcats took advantage of the missed chances and blew the game open in the fourth.

Eureka sent nine batters to the plate and scored four runs in the inning to push the lead to 6-0.

“It’s just disappointing from the lack of focus on our part,” Branson said. “Not capitalizing on some scoring opportunities throughout the game is frustrating because that had been something we had been fairly good at to this point of the season.”

Russellville ended with five hits in the contest, led by Bryce Bryant with a 2-for-3 day.

Daniel took the loss on the mound for the Indians, throwing 3⅔ innings and allowing six runs on 11 hits and one walk while striking out one.

Missed opportunities and shaky defense let the Kirksville Tigers open up too big of a lead in Game 2 for the Indians to overcome.

Russellville had a golden opportunity to score in the first inning after loading the bases with one out, but once again came up empty, as an infield pop out and a fly out to center ended the threat.

The game remained scoreless until the top of the third inning when a pair of walks came around to score on a single to left field by Connor Hall and a sacrifice fly to left field by Dominic Cahalan moved the Tigers in front 2-0.

“Being behind in games, maybe not focused and ready for every single pitch, as a coaching staff, that falls directly on me,” Branson said.

Jake Schulte led off the bottom half with a single for the Indians and scored their first run three batters later on a sacrifice fly hit by Daniel.

But Kirksville would score at least one run in each inning the rest of the way, as the Tigers plated one in the fourth, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and two more in the seventh.

Russellville ended with six errors in the contest, which allowed five unearned runs to score.

“When you give any team five or six extra outs with our errors, and some mental errors tacked onto that as well that don’t show up from a scorebook standpoint,” Branson said, “you can’t give quality baseball teams that many opportunities.”

The Indians were able to get a run back in the bottom of the sixth but went to the bottom of the seventh trailing 8-2.

And they put together a good rally in the final half inning, plating three runs on three hits, but ultimately fell a bit short.

Russellville (10-3) was once again led by Bryant in Game 2 after he finished 2-for-4 with an RBI.

The Indians will look to bounce back at 1 p.m. today when they conclude the Classic against St. Charles West at Capital City High School in the seventh-place game.


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