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Keep an eye on Bullinger, as Ozark center fielder adds to Tigers' fireworks in 11-6 win

OZARK'S CADEN MCGEHEE keeps a hand on the bag as he steals second base against Jefferson City Helias on Friday.
OZARK'S CADEN MCGEHEE keeps a hand on the bag as he steals second base against Jefferson City Helias on Friday.

Peyton Bullinger packed a wallop Friday, after taking a wallop a week earlier.

Bullinger banged out a pair of hits, including a two-run double, as his season debut and Ozark’s home opener resulted an 11-6 Tigers triumph versus Jefferson City Helias.

Just as Ozark rebounded from a 3-0 deficit, Bullinger bounced back from a scary accident in a practice that essentially left him blind in his right eye for 24 hours.

The Tigers center fielder learned the hard way J-Bands sometimes don’t offer the resistance they’re designed to.

“I was stretching and a J-band snapped and hit me right in the eye,” Bullinger said of the incident, which happend on the eve of Ozark's season-opener March 15. “It was my own bad, I did it to myself. It hurt, it hurt really bad. (The band) hit me with such force that it caused my (right) eye to be completely swollen and get red. I had some blood in my eye for a little bit, but it's dissipated. My left eye was scratched a little.

“I called my grandparents (from practice), I love my grandpa and grandma, and they took me to the hospital to get checked out,” he added. “No permanent damage. It's healing pretty quick.” 

Bullinger assumed his starting spot in center field Friday and promptly singled in his first at-bat.  

“I was with the guys (for Ozark’s first two games), cheering them on,” Bullinger said. “But it’s great to be back in the action.”

Ozark (3-0) provided plenty of action, with catcher Gannon Miller ripping a trio of hits and Bullinger, second baseman Truman Griessel and first baseman George Reynolds each supplying two hits.

The Tigers fell behind 3-0 in the first inning, but tied things up with a three-run third that included an RBI-double by pitcher Alex Nimmo and an RBI-single by Miller.

Ozark enjoyed a seven-run fourth. The outburst was triggered by a leadoff bunt single by third baseman Caden McGehee, who earlier this week scored the game-winning run at Kickapoo.

“It was my call,” McGehee said of his bunt. “I saw (Helias’ third baseman) was playing way back. He was a few steps behind the bag. I was pretty confident. I'd say I'm a decent bunter and we practice bunting a whole lot. This infield slows the ball down just enough to where nobody can get to it, if you place it just right. That's what I did.”

Following McGehee’s bunt, right fielder Landon Blanchard belted an RBI-triple, shortstop Hudson Roberts and Reynolds both delivered an RBI-single, Miller lined an RBI-double, Bullinger brought in two runs with a double and Griessel capped the uprising with an RBI-single.

Miller picked up his third hit and third RBI in the fifth.

Nimmo went the distance to gain the win. He wasted little time in between pitches, thankfully, as a cold wind grew stronger over the course of the game.

Ozark travels to Columbia today to meet Battle and West Plains.