Good pitching, solid defense and some clutch hitting translates to a win 99 times out of 100. And that’s exactly what the Festus Tigers got in their season opener against the Fox Warriors .
The Tigers had the luxury of being the home team, and with ace Nate Moore on the mound, that is usually a recipe for success. Moore cruised through the first inning and then the Festus bats started things off on the right foot.
Wyatt Huskey worked a six-pitch walk to start the inning and immediately scampered to third on a Brady Nolen single to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Hayden Bates then drove the second pitch he saw into right field for a quick 1-0 lead.
To follow that up, Mason Schirmer walked to load the bases, and with two outs Brayden Montgomery took a 3-1 pitch for ball four to walk in a run and give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
Fox would fire back in the second though and tied the game at two without recording a hit. A hit by pitch, three consecutive walks and an RBI-ground out leveled the playing field, as Moore’s command got away from him. He settled down though and finished three innings of two-run ball with just one hit allowed and three strikeouts against four walks.
It would be all pitching and defense for the next three innings, as Cole Skaggs came on in relief and went 2 1/3, punching out four and allowing just one hit. He didn’t walk a batter, and eventually gave way to Schirmer to collect the final two outs in the sixth.
Then that clutch offense arrived. Tied at two in the bottom of the sixth, Jeremiah Cunningham stepped into a 1-1 offering and laced a ball into center. Montgomery, who was on via HBP, streaked home all the way from first and Cunningham had himself a game-winning RBI-double.
Schirmer slammed the door in the seventh by striking out the side and Festus had pulled off their first win in dramatic fashion. It was a heck of a way to win a ballgame, especially the first of the season.
Schirmer got the win after facing five batters and striking out every man he saw. Cunningham was the offensive hero with the game-winning double, but Montgomery reached base in all three plate appearances and scored the winning run.
The Tigers had just four hits on the day along with four walks, but they didn’t commit a single error in the field and the pitching staff fanned 12 Warriors. That’s pretty much all a coach can ask of his guys.
Festus will look to win back-to-back games on Thursday as they Take on the Trojans in Potosi.