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Miller, Ozark make return from hiatus by splitting with Willard and Lebanon

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WILLARD — Greydon Miller got back in the swing of things in a hurry after he and his Ozark teammates endured an impromptu break of nine days.

Ozark finally had a May game day Monday, as coach Justin Sundlie’s bunch took to the field for the first time since April 29 and bowed to Willard 7-5.

“It seemed like forever,” Miller said of the idle week-plus. “It felt like we were prepping for another beginning of the season. We did what we could do. I think we handled it maturely. We showed up to practice every day with a purpose, with our eyes on this game.”

Afterward, Ozark’s attention was on its 12 stranded baserunners. The game ended with the visitors leaving the bases loaded.

“Maybe 75,” Sundlie said with a sigh when asked how many baserunners his team stranded. “Sometimes, we don't realize (runners on base) is a good time to hit. We were looking at strike one too much. We put ourselves in a hole and all of a sudden we’re down 0-2 with runners in scoring position. You've got to be aggressive, especially against good pitchers.

“We're one or two big hits away from where we want to be,” he added.

Miller was Ozark’s lone hitter to deliver in the clutch. He banged out three hits and collected three RBIs.

The senior right-fielder belted a solo home run in the fifth inning on a 1-1 count.

“He threw me a first-pitch curve ball and I let it go and he threw me an outside fast ball,” Miller said. “(Then), he threw me the same pitch. The second fast ball was in the same spot. I got my arms extended and let it fly. I was sitting fast ball, looking to be aggressive.”

Miller was hitting out of the seven-hole. He’s often hit in the middle of the order this season.

“There are a lot of places in the lineup he can hit,” Sundlie said. “He’s been all over the lineup. Whether he stays in the seven-hole, who knows. He's done a good job no matter where we put him.”

Miller followed up with four RBIs in Ozark’s 9-5 triumph Tuesday versus Lebanon.

Ozark (15-10) will conclude its regular-season slate Wednesday against Carthage (8-20). The two teams will turn around and meet each other again in a Class 6 District 6 first-round game next week.

“I have a good feeling about (Districts),” Miller said. “We’re going to get hot at the right time and ride it through the end of the post-season. If we stick with our approaches, I think we can play some good baseball.”

“I believe in these guys and they believe in themselves,” Sundlie said. “Their energy stays positive. I love that about them.”

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