Brody Baumann has picked up right where he left off last season by delivering in the clutch.
Baumann belted a game-winning RBI-triple to help Ozark beat Tulsa Bishop Kelley (Oklahoma) 4-3 Friday. It was part of a 3-0 start to the season for the Tigers.
Ozark also beat Poplar Bluff 15-9 Friday and followed up with an 11-8 victory versus Jefferson City on Saturday.
Baumann broke a 3-all, sixth-inning tie against Bishop Kelley by bringing home Kannon Little with the winning run on a triple to the left-center gap.
“I saw a curve ball the pitch before and took a hack at it, thinking it wasn't going to break. But it did,” Baumann said. “I looked over at coach (Justin Sundlie) and he said, 'Keep your head down.' I couldn't tell you what the next pitch was. I think it might have been a curve ball that was hanging on the outside corner. I stayed through it and it carried all the way to the wall.”
The left-handed swinging Baumann stresses plate discipline by hitting where the ball is pitched.
“I want to get back to the fundamentals at-bat and hit through the ball and not try to muscle up,” he said. “I think that helps a lot. That's my strength, going away. I don't pull the ball too much because I get a lot of outside pitches. When it comes inside, I’ll have to (pull). But I haven't seen much of that so far.”
Baumann was Ozark’s top run-producer last season with 27 RBIs.
“I was glad to get the run across to give us momentum and hype us a little bit,” he said. “That carried on to Devyn (Wrigh) pitching. He did a great job closing it out.”
Wright shut Bishop Kelley down in the seventh to earn a save.
Sophomore Gage Depee made his varsity debut and held Bishop-Kelley to three runs over five frames.
“Gage gave us five good innings,” Sundlie said.
Baumann was the winning pitcher against Poplar Bluff.
“I let in a few runs, which were on me for not locating the ball,” Baumann siad. “But (catcher Cooper Buvid) helped me focus and finish out a few innings and I had good defense behind me.”
Right fielder Greydon Miller got his senior season off to a good start by going 3-for-4 against Poplar Bluff.
With both games Friday at U.S. Baseball Park played in a steady mist and 40-degree temperatures, the weather factored prominently.
“At times the weather made everything sloppy,” Sundlie said. “It’s hard to throw strikes when your hands are so cold. It's also harder to swing a bat. Nobody looked in mid-season form, that’s for sure.”
“The mist got in my eyes a little bit, but was never a problem while I was actually pitching,” Baumann said. “It's cold but we were all focused. We've practiced in it, so we have got used to it and buckled down.”
The Tigers were proud not to be overwhelmed by the weather.
“I wouldn't say there was talk about the weather,” Baumann said. “It was more like, 'We've been here before, so let's keep going. Don't let it get to your head, just find a way. It's part of the game.’”
“The kids showed up to compete,” Sundlie added. “They're just excited to play. I wouldn't say it was pretty the whole time and they wouldn't either. But they found a way to win and showed resilience.”
Ozark journeyed to Hillcrest to face Jefferson City. Left-fielder Sutton Hanks banged out a pair of hits and Little was the winning pitcher.