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The Lake News Online
  • Yakich leads Mustangs to 10-9 win over Camdenton

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    • Meet Tyler Russell, Eldon's new coach

      Coach Tyler Russell actually grew up in Panama, where he says baseball is played 24/7.
      "It's a baseball-first country, and that's what people do," he said.
      He played baseball to high s...

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      Meet Tyler Russell, Eldon's new coach

      Coach Tyler Russell actually grew up in Panama, where he says baseball is played 24/7.

      "It's a baseball-first country, and that's what people do," he said.

      He played baseball to high school, where he was injured and put out of the game indefinitely, but maintained his love for the game, studying the various aspects of it.

      Coach Russell began coaching with the Mustangs three years ago under Coach Silvers, working as the pitching coach.

      He was a member of the staff full-time last year, and when the job opened up, he applied. Though he didn't have a ton of experience, his attitude and energy was enough to convince the hire.

      While he may not have much coaching experience, he has loads of experience in working with kids, spending four years as a youth minister at 9th Street Christian Church, where he helped grow the youth group from roughly 20 kids to 120.

      He attended college at Ozark Christian College, where he got a degree in psychology, specializing in working with adolescent youth.

      Russell and his coaching staff are trying to promote a culture of change in Eldon's baseball community, something he credits Coach Silvers as starting.

      Russell originally wound up in Eldon by marrying an Eldon gal, and says that now that he's here, he couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

      Coach Russell's first year is already seeing support from the community, including the backing of the Lions' Club in Eldon, who are currently working on improving the field and their dugouts. The Lions' Club even donated enough money to but new bats for the Mustangs this season. Combining that with a solid showing from the community in their home opener, it looks as if Eldon is prepared for a shift in baseball culture.

  • Eldon, Mo. – Monday night's baseball game in Eldon was not baseball weather, but that didn't stop the Mustangs and the Lakers from duking it out over ten innings.
    It didn't stop fans from showing up to watch, either, as the bleachers of McMillen Field held a number of Camdenton and Eldon faithful, huddled close together in an attempt to stay warm.
    The temperature plummeted on Monday night, enough so that the entire game was played with snow flurries coming down steadily.
    Coming off of an 8-4 loss in their season opener last Friday night, the Eldon Mustangs and their new head coach, Tyler Russell, looked to bounce back and pick up their first win of the season.
    A hard-fought ten innings of baseball in the cold saw the Mustangs emerge the victors after Yakich hit a deep ball in the bottom of the tenth to win the game.
    "We had kids hitting the ball all over the field, but we got down a few times," Coach Tyler Russell said after the game. "Our guys could have easily packed it in and said we're done. And instead of quitting, we showed fight, and that's the most encouraging thing to me, more encouraging than winning. That helps me know that this team is going to play for each other and play hard, and that they're never going to quit on us, and I can't ask for any more than that."
    As the cold set in, the game got underway on Monday night. Pitching for the Mustangs, right-hander Skylar Yakich proved troublesome for the Lakers in the top of the first striking out Jordan Webster and John McRoberts back-to-back and allowing just one hit. After Tyler Cunningham singled, Jake Decker's hit flew to second base, where Cunningham was tagged out, ending the top of the first.
    Cole Wilson worked the mound for the Lakers to start off, and Eldon jumped to an early and commanding lead, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first.
    Jesse Carman led off for the Mustangs, but his hit sailed to Camdenton's short-stop, Tristan Starkey, who made the play at first for the first out. Chase Cook was walked next, and a double by Cory Homan allowed Cook to score.
    Dylan Wood came up next, and with a hit to centerfield, he singled, giving Homan the chance to score. Jacob Clifton hit a double on the next play, and Chris Hulsey's grounder bounced away from Starkey, allowing the runners to get on base and another run to score.
    Leading 3-0, Hulsey then stole a base as the Lakers looked to defend home plate. Another hit by Eldon sent Clifton home for a 4-0 lead, and as the fielding errors, most likely caused by the cold, piled up, Eldon scored two more runs for a 6-0 lead before the Lakers finally made it out of the inning.
    Page 2 of 3 - With one inning down and six more to go, Eldon led 6-0.
    Haiden Randall started off the second inning for the Lakers with a hit to second base, which Eldon's shortstop bobbled. Wilson batted next and was walked, but Alex Lowther's hit on the next play turned into a double play for Eldon, as the ball went to the third baseman for Eldon, who tagged the bag for an out before slinging the ball to first.
    Hulsey leaped into the air to catch the high ball, and came down on the bag just in time to make the play.
    Brady Kempf singled for an RBI on the next play, and after Starkey hit deep to left field, Jordan Webster came to bat with two outs and runners on first and second. Webster struck out swinging.
    The Lakers' defense picked up in the second, as Wilson had two strikeouts to end the inning quickly along with a nice defensive play by Starkey at second.
    Trailing 6-1 in the top of the third, the Lakers looked to get their bats going. It seemed as if it just might happen, after McRoberts singled and Cunningham was walked, but three consecutive outs ended the inning.
    Eldon fared no batter in the bottom of the third, as the Lakers used just five pitches to get three quick outs, with Starkey again coming up big for Camdenton.
    The fourth inning, however, saw the Lakers' luck change. Two quick hits by Lowther and Kempf put runners on base, and a bunt by Starkey loaded the bases.
    Webster took the plate next, driving a deep hit into centerfield, but was caught for the out, while Lowther tagged up for a run.
    Yakich's pitches continued to confuse some of the hitters for Camdenton, as McRoberts struck out. With runners on second and third, Cunningham drove a deep shot to center field for two RBI's and a double. Decker's hit on the next play led to an out at third base, sending it to the bottom of the fourth.
    Again, the Lakers quickly pulled off three outs against the Mustangs' offense, using just seven pitches this time.
    "The thought going through my head at that point was how we would keep our kids focused," Coach Russell said. "We played Friday night, and jumped out to an early lead, and kind of relaxed. We only have two seniors, so there's not a lot of older kids. It's the mentality of a 16-17 year old kid, so how do we keep them engaged? As far as our defense and pitching goes, we're fine, so my biggest concern is keeping them focused."
    The Lakers failed to add any more runs in the top of the fifth, but Eldon capitalized as Camdenton switched pitchers, putting in Brett Lange.
    Page 3 of 3 - Yakich was walked before the change, and stole second after the second.
    And then he stole third.
    Yakich eventually tagged up for a run, and another Eldon run made it an 8-4 game at the end of five innings.
    Camdenton used the next two innings to score two runs in each, using two hits and a number of walks to score two runs in the fifth. In the top of the seventh, McRoberts finally got his hit, a triple that sent Webster home to make it an 8-7 game. An RBI by Decker tied the game, and Eldon couldn't score in the bottom of the seventh, forcing another inning.
    The eighth inning saw neither team score, but both teams scored a run in the tenth, to the elation of their fans and dugouts.
    Camdenton couldn't get their bats going again in the tenth, failing to score, but Eldon managed to load up the bases in the bottom of the tenth.
    Yakich came up to bat, and hit a  deep ball into center field for the win, giving the Mustangs their first win of the season at their home opener.
    During that last play, Yakich says he was trying not to think about the pressure, or the potential to win the game.
    "But when I hit it, I though 'hero time'," Yakich said with a laugh. "I was ecstatic. I was really hoping they wouldn't drift to it and catch it, but as soon as it came down and I heard everyone coming out, I thought 'Oh my gosh, yes'."
    The Mustangs charged the field after Yakich's hit, and as the winning run scored, Yakich could be seen running away from the stampede of his teammates.
    "I saw it and thought 'Oh God, get out of here!'" Yakich said. "But we don't beat Camdenton very often, so it was pretty amazing to be get that win at home."
    Yakich finished the game with six strikeouts over four innings and two RBI's.
    Hulsey finished the game for the Mustangs, pitching hard to keep the Lakers at bay through the last four innings. He finished the night with four strikeouts and 14 first-pitch strikes.
    "What a resilient effort," Coach Russell said of Hulsey's efforts pitching. "He just came out to battle and fight through it, and what an awesome way to do that and finish, pitching hard."
    Eldon's record went to 1-1, while Camdenton's advanced to 1-2 before their home game on Tuesday night. (Editor's Note: Camdenton's record is now 1-3 after a 6-4 loss to Sedalia Smith Cotton)
    "For us, it's an awesome feeling," Coach Russell said. "The boys can see they're improving. It's exciting to see the bats working and the kids fighting. They're finally seeing their hard work and dedication pay off."

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