In the 2012 season opener, the Lakers traveled to Eldon to take on the Mustangs, and were soundly beat in a 7-0 loss.
This season, the Camdenton Lakers played host to the Eldon Mustangs on Monday night, and the Lakers' bats went to work in the season opener as the Lakers defeated the Mustangs in a 14-4 win.
"It's a good start," Camdenton's coach Matt Moulder said after the game. "There were certainly things we can do better, and we're going to keep working hard to do just that. But, you know, those first game jitters are always good to get through and find a way to get a win. For the most part, I thought we played fairly well."
Senior lefty Dylan Himes pitched for the first four innings in the win, giving up no runs until the third inning, and was relieved by sophomore Jake Decker, who finished the game.
"The pitching was pretty good. Hymes kind of wore down late, and I probably should have gotten him out of there a little earlier than that, but he's a senior, and I wanted to let him work himself out of a jam and see how he responded," Moulder said. "Decker is going to be one of our main guys this year. He threw a lot for us this summer. He's got potential to be really good for us, and we just need to ease him in slowly and get him some reps. We put him on third to take some pressure off of him, because we know he is going to have to pitch for us this year."
For Eldon, right-handed senior Joseph Limbach took the mound and was relieved by junior Skylar Yakich.
"Joe's been a starter for us for all four years, and I thought he threw well," Eldon coach Broc Silvers said. "He didn't get a lot of strikeouts. He's not an overpowering guy, but if he could have gotten a couple of quick outs, I think it would have been a different game for him. As for Skylar, he's our best defender, so when we take him out, our defense struggles. Overall, I thought both of them threw well. We didn't have a lot of wild pitches, we just didn't have much defense behind them."
Camdenton took an early 3-0 lead after the first inning, thanks to solid hits from Tyler Cunningham, John McRoberts and Jordan Webster, and added on an additional two runs in the second with a steal from Jake Decker and another run batted in by McRoberts. The Lakers would tack on three more in the third, leading the Mustangs 8-0.
"Overall, I thought we did fairly well. We hit the ball a little bit, but we can certainly hit better," Moulder said. "Scoring 14 runs isn't too bad. We'll take it and keep working, keep getting better."
The Lakers seemed to settle in with their eight run lead, and may have gotten too comfortable, as Eldon finally found their footing to score four runs, led by a long drive to centerfield by Jacob Clifton.
"It comes down to mental toughness. We preach it all of the time, but don't always execute it very well," Coach Moulder said. "Sometimes, you've got an eight run lead, and you walk the first two guys up, and lose your concentration and start to relax, and you let them back in the ball game. It's not acceptable, and in any other situation, it could certainly come back and bite us, but we were fortunate enough to right the ship, get it straightened out and add to the lead."
The Lakers would finally pick things back up in the bottom of the fifth, with runs being scored by Decker and Oliver Thompson.
Cunningham would drill a long ball into the outfield, falling just short of the fence, which after McRoberts was walked, left the Lakers with bases loaded. Dylan Hymes was struck by an errant pitch, sending home Simpson for the second run of the inning.
With bases still loaded, catcher Jake Voorhees took the plate next. His hit to right field would send in Cunningham. The inning would end with Hymes being tagged out at second.
The top of the sixth went quickly, with Decker striking out Eldon's Lee Thacker and the next two runners thrown out at first.
Camdenton looked to finish the game in the bottom of the sixth, and got started off with a nice hit down the left pole by Bryan Hoffman for a double. With Decker at bat, Hoffman successfully made his move for third. Decker was walked, sending Thompson to the plate to bat. Thompson's double drove in Hoffman, and after Cory Simpson was walked, Cunning ham came to bat once again with bases loaded. With a low hit past the short-stop, Cunningham sent Decker home for the 14th run of the game, as the Lakers defeated the Mustangs 14-4.
"It's always great to start the year off on a positive note. We're trying to build and keep getting better," Coach Moulder said. "Last year, we had a very poor performance in the opening game, and that took us awhile to shake and get confidence in ourselves. Hopefully, this will help the kids relax and play how they are capable of winning and keep winning."
On the Eldon sidelines, Coach Broc Silvers said he'll be looking for more energy from the team as the season progresses.
"We're young, and we're going to get better," Silvers said. "We didn't play with the energy that we did on Friday. If we had thrown as well we did today on Friday, we would have won the ball-game. We didn't field very well and our hitting is struggling. We have a lot of young kids, and have only been outside on the dirt twice, so the defense is going to come along."
For Eldon, this was the second game of the season, having faced off against Clinton at home on Friday, March 15, where they fell in a 7-3 loss in eight innings. The Lakers hit the road on Tuesday night, traveling to Smith-Cotton in Sedalia, where the team was beaten 6-1 by the Tigers. Both the Lakers and the Mustangs are now 1-1 on the season.
Eldon's next game is against Cole Camp on Thursday at home at 5 p.m., while Camdenton's next game will be against Bolivar on the road on Monday, March 25.