School of the Osage baseball shuts down Climax Springs

Michael Losch
Lake Sun Leader
Osage senior Dominick Vernetti fires a pitch towards home plate in a game against Climax Springs on April 1 in Osage Beach. Vernetti pitched four innings of shutout baseball and recorded 10 strikeouts.

Osage senior Dominick Vernetti is feeling good. 

After two long years, baseball is finally back in session in the wake of COVID-19 and he was feeling even better Thursday afternoon in a game with Lake area neighbor Climax Springs. Vernetti got the call on the mound and pitched four innings of shutout baseball and his teammates backed him up offensively in a 15-0 win over the Cougars. 

“It feels great. We’ve had two years off and our team is ready and hungry,” Vernetti said of his team’s return to the diamond. 

Osage wasted little time at the plate, racking up nine runs in the first two innings before closing things out with a trio of runs in the third and fourth. That was helped in part by nine Climax Springs errors. 

“We have a lot of young players, so it is hard,” said Climax Springs head coach Jacob Moore who is in his first season leading a Cougar team with underclassmen comprising over half of its roster. 

“This is our fourth game so far and we have not been able to really get on the field too much for practice. We had our first real practice yesterday because our field wasn’t ready until about last week and we’ve had games ever since. It is nice to finally get some action and get my young kids some reps on the field because we are going to fail and need to so that way we can learn from it.” 

Osage sophomore Konner Vaughn led the Indians with three RBIs on the day while senior Tyler Klee, sophomore Jackson Funderburk, junior Dalton Stoecklein and sophomore Ryan King drove in a pair of runs each. Sophomore Trey Johnson, senior Connor Arrowood and sophomore Dalton Wall added to the mix as well with an RBI each. 

“It boosts our confidence a little bit and gets our dugout going, which is great,” Vernetti said of his club’s offense. “It is always a great time.” 

Climax Springs junior pitcher Owen Plott struck out a pair of batters, allowed three hits and walked eight in his three innings on the mound before sophomore Johny McCartney pitched in relief. Moore said he liked some of what he was seeing from the junior Thursday afternoon.

“He is doing the job I asked him to. I asked him to put the ball in play so our defense can make plays for him and our defense is letting him down a little bit, but he has got decent stuff and he can throw it where he wants to sometimes,” the coach said. “He pitched a heck of a game for us there for a while. So, we are working on figuring out how to make plays and back up our pitcher a little bit.”

Climax Springs senior Elias Duncan managed to post the only hit of the day for the Cougars as Vernetti maintained his command with 10 strikeouts. 

“He gave up one hit and it was on a diving play by our second baseman that could have saved that no-hitter,” Osage coach David Flaspohler noted. “He came ready to go and did a fantastic job for us tonight.” 

It was a game that could generate some confidence for the senior hurler and he said he just kept things simple in his strategy.

“The curve ball really wasn’t working today so I just kind of stuck with the fastball and tried to go low and away, anything low,” Vernetti noted. “Just trying to get wins, build team confidence and hopefully this builds a little bit of a winning streak.” 

That will certainly be the hope for Osage (2-1, 0-1 Tri-County Conference) after coming off a 12-0 loss to Hallsville in the conference opener on Wednesday. Flaspohler said the objective is to continue improving and show growth in all aspects of the game and the club will certainly have its opportunities with a full season ahead- finally- after two long years. Up next for the team was a scheduled game against Laquey (3-3) Friday afternoon before the Indians visit Versailles (3-3) on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

“Really enjoy the group of men we have and very proud of them and where they’re at thus far. We just know we have other goals in mind and it is going to be a grind to get there,” he stated. “We have in the next six weeks, I think, 23 games. We are going to be pretty jam-packed and we have a lot of baseball to play. So, the future for them is very bright and exciting.” 

That is the future Moore is hoping to build as well. Climax Springs fell to 0-4, but the coach has a bigger picture in mind and he said it begins with little improvements each day. 

“Every day we try to make less mistakes than we made the day before,” the coach noted. “i’m hoping we can just take what we learned from making mistakes and grow from it.” 

The Cougars will return to the diamond next week for the Wheatland Tournament, which is slated to begin with a game against Leeton (3-0) on Monday. 

Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at mlosch@lakesunonline.com or 573-346-2132