Belleville, Ill. - After an exciting nine innings of baseball, the Patriots fell one run short of upsetting Lindenwood University - Belleville on Wednesday. Despite an outstanding pitching performance by Caleb Cirre in his first collegiate start on the mound, the Patriots couldn't keep LU-B down as they lost to a final score of 12-11.
The game started out rough for Morthland as they allowed the Lynx to take the lead in the bottom of the first on two hits and two errors. Cirre was able to keep the damage to a minimum by only allowing one run while stranding two to keep the Patriots only down 1-0.
The MC bats were kept quiet by LU-B's starter, Camron Shipley. He held the Morthland offense hitless until their lead off, LaMarcus O'Neal, broke through with a line-drive single in the top of the fourth. That was the lone hit of the inning though, and the boys went into the bottom of the inning down 5-0 after the Lynx plated four in their half of the third.
LU-B tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth to draw the lead up to 6-0. Cirre kept the home team at bay for another inning in the fifth, and was looking to extend his outing until the gas ran out in the sixth. After recording two quick outs, a pair of singles and a double promtped head coach Reid Cure to turn to his bullpen with the bases loaded and two down.
Colton Hale came out for his second appearance of the season and quickly recorded the ground out from Alex Brooks at third to Dillon Ritter at first to get the boys out of a jam, but still trailing 7-0.
The seventh inning is when the magic happened. Morthland's offense came alive as the boys got their spark from senior Jon Marc Girardeau getting hit by a pitch to reach first base. Following Girardeau, Ritter and Matt Cirre reached base on walks. With the bases juiced and one out in the books, Brooks came to the dish and flew out to left, just shy of being able to drive in Girardeau at third.
Now, with the bases loaded and two outs, Patriot freshman Chase Vasquez stepped into the box looking to keep the momentum going.
The Garland, Texas native lined a single to left to advance each runner one base. Vasquez was followed by another freshman, Matt Woods, who drew a walk to bring in another run. The Patriots had cut the deficit to 7-2 at this point with two outs and the bases still juiced.
In stepped Dalton Utley, the Patriot catcher, who was hitless on the day. Yet again, the bats came through as Utley lifted a high drive to right field that landed just short of the wall. The double drove in two runs, bringing the Patriots up to 7-4.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hale came out and recorded a 1-2-3 inning to keep the momentum in Morthland's favor.
Following the lead, the Lynx were prompted to make a comeback, which was started by their leadoff man, Ethan Ruff.
Ruff singled to center and sparked a five run inning to give LU-B the lead back at 12-11.
From there, the Lynx shut down the Patriots in the ninth to finalize the ballgame.
The Patriots get to take the lessons from the loss and prepare for their double-header against Williams Baptist College this upcoming Tuesday, February 28. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. at Rent One Park in Marion, Ill.
Stats for those games can be followed live here.