Tigers pick up first win of the season

Mother nature finally cooperated for the Versailles baseball team.

The Tigers visited Osage to take on the host Indians, Dixon and Richland in the annual Osage Wood Bat Tournament over the weekend and although it was a chilly weekend for baseball, the team was glad to be back out on the diamond. Versailles finished third after going 1-2 with a 12-0 loss to Dixon, a 12-0 shutout over Richland and an 11-4 defeat to Osage in the finale.

It may not have been the most ideal finish, but Coach Jason Ollison liked what he saw from his club as they broke out the wood bats.

“We’ve played twice as many games in these last three days than we played all season up to this point so it is nice to be outside and do some of those things. I would have liked for it to have been a little warmer, but that is ok and I am proud of our guys,” Ollison stated. “We improved throughout the weekend and that is the main thing. We have not been on the field to practice since March 21 so getting out here and getting to play baseball on a field instead of a gym is a good thing for us.”

It was a tough start for Versailles in the Friday night opener with Dixon, which went on to win its ninth straight Osage Wood Bat title. The Tigers were held to just two hits from the bats of Brayden Morrison and Kaden McGinnis. Meanwhile, the Dixon bats were a little more productive as the pitching duo of Kade Marriott and Colbey Boicourt combined to allow nine hits while walking and striking out a single batter in four innings.

Versailles’ fortunes would soon change, though, as the Tigers picked up their first win of the season in convincing fashion against Richland.

The Versailles bats came alive as the team racked up 14 total hits. Taylor Dobbins led the way with a four-hit game while Wyatt Espinosa, Marriott and Trenton Owsley all picked up two hits and Andy Clemens, Kooper Wilson, McGinnis and Boicourt all added a hit as well. Owsley drove in four runs while Clemens and Dobbins added two RBIs and Espinosa, Wilson and McGinnis also drove in a run.

On the mound, the arm of McGinnis was solid for the Tigers as he worked five innings and gave up just two hits while retiring eight batters via the strikeout.

“They were happy and Kaden came out and pitched a great game and we got the sticks together and hit the ball pretty well,” Ollison said of his club’s first win. “I think early they were still a little timid expecting mistakes and expecting bad things. Once they relaxed and started swinging the bats, we did a good job. Richland played both of these other two teams fairly tough too so for us to come out and get a win like that was good.”

Versailles went up against a familiar foe in the wood bat finale with Osage as the two Tri-County Conference teams slugged it out in their second meeting in three days. The Indians presented a tough challenge, but the Tigers did not go down without a fight.

After an 11-0 defeat Thursday night, Versailles made things a little more interesting and only trailed by two runs through five innings before the Osage offense strung together a few late runs in the sixth and seventh innings to create the final margin.

McGinnis led the way with two hits while Kooper Wilson added a hit and two RBIs, Morrison produced a hit and RBI and both Espinosa and Ryan Chamberlin put up a hit each. Morrison was also on the mound and he kept his team in it through five innings of work, allowing four earned runs on six hits while walking three and striking out seven before reaching his pitch count limit. The pitching duo of Dobbins and Seth Gideon finished things out and allowed a combined six earned runs on eight hits while striking out one.

“Brayden pitched a heck of a game and we had to make the state-mandated pitching change. We did not have a whole lot left after the week we’ve had,” Ollison remarked. “It gave us some struggles, but they (Osage) have a good club over there. They got guys that can put the ball in play, swing it pretty good and run the bases well.

“I thought our guys fought real hard. Thursday night we came out here and got slaughtered and tonight we battled through.”

And anytime the bats can produce, good things can happen moving forward.

“We had some guys swinging the bats early and swinging the bat well. Even some of the guys that had not been with us last year were getting their feet wet. Kooper came in and had a nice triple tonight and he is starting to figure it out a little bit. The more they just get out and play, the better we are going to be.”

Ultimately, Versailles (1-5) is much more concerned with how they are playing come district playoff time. Until then, each game is just another opportunity to improve.

“We just have to keep plugging away. Like I tell them all the time, the more we practice the better we are going to get,” the coach noted. “Even though these are games, we are treating them like practice and waiting for the district tournament. That is what we are trying to build up to so the more experience we can get, the better we are going to be.”

Up next for the Tigers is a conference battle on Tuesday when Hallsville comes to town at 5 p.m.