Legion baseball has finally commenced.
After opening day was pushed back due to the bombardment of rain, the Ramsey Motor Wranglers met their first opponent on Monday when Mountain Home McCloud visited Jack Williams Field at the Equity Bank Sports Complex for a doubleheader.
The Wranglers claimed an early lead in the first game and held on to a 6-4 win. The nightcap finished with Ramsey Motor coming from behind to take a 9-8 walk-off win.
Wranglers 6, McCloud 4
All the elements lined up on Monday to create a great setting for legion baseball. The Wranglers jumped on the scoreboard early in the opening contest and held off a late push by McCloud to take a 6-4 win.
Lefty Glen Nelle started on the mound for the home team and struck out the first batter after facing a full count. The next three batters reached to load the bases.
Nelle then retired his second batter on strikes before forcing a pop fly to left field to leave the inning unscathed as three McCloud runners were left stranded.
The Wranglers went right to work offensively.
Bryce Bonds was walked and then went to second when Jake Plumley followed with a hit into right-center field. Keaton Brown then connected on the first pitch of his at bat and turned a throwing error into a double that scored Bonds and moved Plumley to third.
With one out, Nelle hit into a six-three play but not before sending Plumley across home plate.
Two pitches later, Cameron Miller recorded an RBI with a hard hit to the third baseman that was fumbled and never warranted a throw to put Ramsey Motor ahead by a 3-0 score after one inning.
Neither team scored in the second inning.
McCloud had a runner on second base in the top of the third that was sent home after a hit went into right field. Wrangler right fielder Bailey Saunier fielded the hit and rifled a one-hop throw to home just in time to tag the runner out.
McCloud later scored a run in the inning on a passed ball to get on the board, down 3-1.
Neither team scored until the bottom of the fifth when Plumley was walked and then stole second before being batted in by Miller on a hit to center field. Miller later scored on a hard-hit grounder into right field by Saunier to put the Wranglers ahead by a 5-1 score.
Trayson Hicks began the bottom of the sixth with a hit into left field and beat the throw to second for a double. Hicks moved to third when Bonds hit a grounder to the second baseman and was thrown out. Plumley was then walked to put runners on the corners with Brown up to bat.
A well-executed squeeze bunt by Brown put Hicks in for a score and the Wranglers extended their lead, 6-1.
McCloud put together three runs in the top of the seventh but couldn’t overcome the deficit as Ramsey Motor finished the first game with a 6-4 win.
Plumley scored two runs in the ballgame while teammates Hicks, Bonds, Brown and Miller each crossed home plate once.
Hicks recorded three hits, Plumley and Miller two each and Saunier, Nelle and Bodie King one apiece.
Nelle got the win on the mound pitching 5.0 innings with one run on four hits while striking out nine batters. Hicks pitched two innings of relief allowing three runs on three hits with two strikeouts.
Wrangler head coach Steve Williams was impressed with what he saw from the first game.
“Overall, I was very pleased with our outing from a first night standpoint. By American Legion standards, we are very young, mostly 16- and 17-year olds.
“I thought our discipline at the plate was good,” continued the coach. “We didn’t swing at a lot of balls out of the zone. I thought our pitching “stuff” was good, we just need to be more pitch count efficient. But, these guys haven’t pitched in a game in probably a month.”
Wranglers 9, McCloud 8
The lights came on for the nightcap and as the bugs accumulated toward the end of the game, so did the runs for the Wranglers.
Ramsey Motor scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth to come from behind and post a 9-8 win over McCloud to improve to a 2-0 record on the season.
The Wranglers dealt with right-handed pitchers in the first game, but the final game was all lefties.
It was an 8-3 hole that the home team was facing going into the bottom of the final inning.
Drew Hankins led off the last frame with a hit into left field and advanced to third after teammate C.J. Waters drove a ball to the third baseman who couldn’t complete the throw.
With runners on the corners, Noah Noland registered a hit up the middle to score Hankins and get the Wranglers within, 8-4.
King was then walked to load the bases with Tyler Hutcheson due up. Hutcheson was hit by a pitch and Waters moved home to make the score an 8-5 affair.
Brown then put the bat on the ball and scored Noland while advancing the runners, but he couldn’t beat the throw to first.
Garrett Underdown then hit a sacrifice fly into center field that scored King and moved the Wranglers within, 8-7, with two outs.
Ty Phillips then connected on a one-two pitch that drove Hutcheson home and put him safely at first.
Hankins was then walked and both runners advanced on a passed ball.
With two outs and runners in scoring position, Waters connected on the second pitch and pushed the ball up the middle to send Phillips around third for a score and the Wranglers finished with a 9-8 walk-off win.
“We showed a lot of grit and determination in that second game to be down five runs and come back to win on a walk off,” Williams commented about the Wranglers. “We created some team unity as the whole team was standing and cheering as that last inning unfolded.”
Ramsey Motor entered the bottom of the first inning trailing, 2-0.
Hutcheson scored the first Wrangler run after Phillips dropped a hit into right field.
McCloud added another five runs in the second inning to put the Wranglers behind, 7-1.
Dominic Giles was hit by a pitch in the second inning and scored on a hit and run by Waters. Brown added the second run of the second inning after being walked and later scoring on a hit by Underdown to get within, 7-3.
McCloud added another run in the top of the third to end all scoring until the bottom of the fifth.
Saunier got the win on the bump after the Wranglers posted the six runs in the fifth. Saunier threw 1.0 inning with one strikeout. King started the game pitching 1.0 inning while allowing two runs on two hits with one strikeout. Brown pitched 1.0 inning allowing five runs on three hits. Giles threw the third inning allowing one run on no hits with one strikeout. Plumley was on the mound for 1.0 inning and recorded one strikeout.
The Wranglers will take the field on Saturday when they host Batesville for a doubleheader at Jack Williams Field with the first pitch set for 5 p.m.