The offense is getting where it needs to be for the Capital City baseball team as the regular season winds down. But their sixth game in eight days eventually caught up with the Cavaliers' pitching staff.
The Lebanon Yellowjackets batted around the order three times Monday, leading to a 13-6 win against the Cavaliers at Capital City High School.
"The difficult part is keeping them up," Capital City coach Brett Skinner said. "That's what we've struggled with in games that have been lopsided. There's always those one or two innings that get us."
Capital City led 4-2 after three innings, then Lebanon batted around the order in three of the next four innings, scoring three runs in the fourth, five in the fifth and three in the seventh.
Colin Flaherty made his first varsity start as a pitcher for Capital City, holding Lebanon to a pair of runs and four hits through three innings. The sophomore left-hander worked around some early jams to keep the Cavaliers in the game early.
"He's been throwing a lot of JV, and I knew coming in Lebanon liked to swing the bat," Skinner said. "With his velocity and offspeed stuff, I knew he was going to be able to keep them off-balanced."
It worked until the fourth inning, when Lebanon had its Nos. 7-9 hitters all reach base and score to put the Yellowjackets ahead for good at 5-4.
Before that, Capital City got RBI singles from Cooper Rowden and Justin Sullens in the second inning to tie the score at 2. The Cavaliers then added two more runs in the third to go ahead by two runs for their only lead of the game.
In the third, Taggert Bodenstab doubled and scored on a single to right field by Brett Kuebler. Trey Jennings singled to right field for the team's third straight hit.
"Just seeing more pitchers and getting more at-bats is what's done it for us," Skinner said of his team's offense turning the corner as of late. "It's different in practice when you're hitting off the machine and the coach is throwing, you can only work on so much.
"You can really coach a lot when you see swings off live pitching. You can see it, it's night and day from early on in the season and how they're swinging now."
The next batter, Carlos Ayala, put down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Kuebler from third.
"We missed a couple (bunts) this weekend in the tournament," Skinner said. "We preach all the time, 'You have to do the little things.' Carlos did a great job."
Capital City's offense never had a 1-2-3 inning at the plate, finishing with 12 hits.
"I'll take that any day," Skinner said. "I told them if you score six runs in games like this, you're going to start winning a lot of those. When we put everything together, we'll be good."
The Cavaliers scored their final two runs in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Sullens singled up the middle to score Jennings and Ayala to make the score 10-6.
"It felt like every inning, we were threatening," Skinner said.
Capital City finished the game with six errors defensively, but the Cavaliers also made some big plays in the field. Jennings made a shoestring catch in left field, and on two occasions, flyballs hit to the gap that would normally go for extra bases were instead routine flyouts, as Capital City was positioned perfectly in the outfield for the plays.
"Coach (Drew) Burnett spends a lot of time on scouting reports," Skinner said. "He put percentages on where they're going to hit it, and we do a good job of trying to move guys around. And those outfielders, they're all athletic, they're going to cover ground."
Kuebler went 3-for-4 with three singles, while Jennings and Ayala each had two singles. Sullens finished with two singles and a team-high three RBI for the Cavaliers.
Drew McBridge went 3-for-4 with three singles and three RBI to lead Lebanon (14-5). John Greenwood also hit a solo home run to right field in the seventh for the Yellowjackets.
Flaherty walked two and struck out two in four innings for the Cavaliers. Caydin Engelbrecht and Kuebler combined to pitch the final three innings in relief.
Capital City (3-13) will return to Central Missouri Activities Conference play Wednesday in a game against Helias, which will now be a road game for the Cavaliers and played at the American Legion Post 5 Sports Complex.
With two conference games to go, the Cavaliers are hoping to show off their improvement at the plate compared to their first four games in the CMAC.
"It's going to be exciting to see where we're at, and to see how far we've come," Skinner said.
In Monday's JV game, Capital City defeated Lebanon 4-3.