The Grove Ridgerunners played two district games on Monday, March 18 against Vinita.

The Ridgerunners won game one by a score of 9-1 and game two by a score of 4-0. The two wins make the Ridgerunners 4-0 in the district and 9-2 on the season. The Ridgerunners will be back in action on Saturday, March 23 in for a set of games in Willard, Missouri.

Chat Hayes started the first game for the Ridgerunners. Hayes got credit for the win even though he only pitched 3.0 innings giving up no runs on just 1 infield single, no walks, and 6 strikeouts.

The Ridgerunners had an 8 run lead so Coach Pennington decided to get him out and give him some extra rest. Logan Engles was first in relief throwing 3.0 innings giving up 1 run, 3 hits, 3 walks, and 1 strikeout. Cooper Smith finished the game throwing 1.0 inning, giving up 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, and 1 strikeout.

The Ridgerunners opened it up early scoring four runs in the top of the first inning. Seth Willis started out with a one out double followed by a Jack Gentry single driving Willis home for the first run.

Courtesy runner Gunner Jensen stole second and then third. Chase Coughran then walked putting runners on first and third for a Hayes. A balk was called scoring Jensen and moving Coughran to second base.

Hayes then came through with a double to right scoring Coughran. Logan Engles courtesy ran for Hayes and scored when Zane Knox singled into right field giving the Ridgerunners a 4-0 lead.

After a one-two-three inning from Hayes, the Ridgerunners came to bat again. Toby Cearley started them off with a single. Cearley stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher.

Gentry singled to left field and gave way to courtesy runner Jensen who promptly stole second. Coughran singled to center but Jensen had to hold up to see if the ball would drop and only advanced to third.

Hayes followed it up with a deep sacrifice fly to right field scoring the run giving the Ridgerunners a 6-0 lead.

By the end of the game, all the starters for the Ridgerunners had a hit in the boxscore. Gentry and Lane Rutherford each had two hits. Gentry added 2 RBI.

Cearley, Willis, Coughran, Hayes, Knox, Colin Craig, and Isaac Lopez all had a hit as well.

Cade Coble started the second game for the Ridgerunners and threw a 7.0 inning shutout. Coble gave up 5 hits, 1 walk, and had 9 strikeouts. The win made Coble’s record 3-0 on the season.

Vinita’s only threat to score came in the top of the first inning. The leadoff hitter put down nearly a perfect bunt and was able to beat it out before being sacrificed to second.

The following hitter lined a ball into right field for a solid single but Vinita was unable to score the runner from second. Back to back strikeouts ended the inning and the threat.

The Ridgerunners played the second game as the home team and started the bottom of the first inning with a double from Cearley. Cearley went to third on a wild pitch and score when Willis hit a grounder behind him to second base.

Gentry was hit by a pitch and was again ran for by Jensen. Jensen stole second and advanced to third on a grounder by Coughran. Jensen then scored on a wild pitch.

In the bottom of the second, with the score still 2-0 in favor of Grove, the Ridgerunners were able to drive in two more runs. Rutherford reached on an error before Craig walked.

A double steal put them both into scoring position. A ground out by Coble scored a run and moved the other runner to third where he scored on a deep fly ball off the bat of Cearley.

Neither team scored the remainder of the game and the final score was 4-0 in favor of the Ridgerunners.

Cearley had 1 hit, 1 run scored, and 1 run batted in.

Hayes and Knox both had a hit and a walk.

Rutherford and Logan Evans each had a single.

Craig, Willis, Knox, and Hayes each had a walk.

Cearley, Rutherford, Craig, and Jensen had the four runs scored for the Ridgerunners.

On Saturday, the Ridgerunners will play Fort Osage. Fort Osage is east of Kansas City and where Albert Pujols went to high school. They will then play Willard who is ranked #8 in Class 5.

Both teams are considered strong opponents and will give the Ridgerunners a good measuring stick of where they stand at this point in the season.

The Ridgerunners will then play a home and home series against Locust Grove on Monday and Tuesday, March 25 and 26.