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Kelley complete game gem and HRs by Vincent and Michel make for a winning combo


Colin Kelley is obviously far too young to have been a fan during MLB Hall of Famer Tom Seaver's glory days in the 1970s and 80s with the Mets, Reds, White Sox and Red Sox.

But just like Seaver, Kelley features a drop and drive delivery while pitching. And just like Seaver, Kelley routinely picks up a dirt stain on his pants from his right knee rubbing against the mound. 

The Nixa right-handed junior proudly showed off the smudge of dirt on his pants leg Thursday, after throwing a three-hitter in Nixa’s 4-1 triumph versus Springfield Catholic.

“My pitching coach says that with how low I get that it reminds him of (Seaver),” Kelley said. “I've always been able to get really low and my arm can whip back pretty far. All that allows me to throw harder than I would if I was upright. Getting lower and pushing forward gives me more energy. It's a good motion, with everything going down and forward. I never learned how to pitch that way. That's just how I've always pitched. 

“I’m pretty flexible. I will feel my knee hit the mound two or three times during a game," he added. “We've always got to clean my pants at home. No tear so far.”

Kelley also turned in an old-school performance by throwing a complete game. He struck out seven, including fanning the side in the fifth inning.

“I threw that last pitch (in the fifth) about as hard as I could. I was pretty fired up,” he said.

Kelley was able to pitch freely, thanks to Nixa’s offense awakening in the third. A single by Caleb Jones and back-to-back- home runs by Wyatt Vincent and Rylan Michel gave the Eagles a much-welcomed 3-0 lead.

Nixa (1-4) hadn’t led in a game since its season-opener.

“With those two bombs, it made me feel more confident having run support,” Kelley said. “With a lead, I can pitch to guys differently and be a little loose on the mound because I know my guys have my back.”

Kelley was a breakout star as a sophomore late last season and is carrying over his success. Over 12.2 innings in his two starts this season, he has 13 strikeouts and allowed two earned runs.

"He's come back this year better than ever,” Michel said. “We've all known he had this in him. Today, he hit his spots well and started a lot of counts with strikes.”

“I pitched well and commanded well,” Kelley said. “My defense all game was spectacular. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do as well as I did.” 

Shortstop Caeden Cloud provided a highlight by ranging to his left to field a would-be base hit from his knees, and practically in the same motion, threw the batter out at first base. Wow! That was not a high school play.

Cloud and Jones both had a pair of hits and Cloud drew a bases-loaded walk.

The offensive fireworks, of course, were provided by Vincent and Michel. Vincent hit a two-run homer to left to make it a 2-0 ball game and and Michel also went to left for a solo shot.

Like Kelley, Michel got his uniform dirty. On the first pitch he saw following Viincent’s blast, Michel had to hit the dirt in the batter’s box to avoid a high, inside delivery from Catholic pitcher Cole Schoen.

Not deterred, Michel smacked the next pitch for his homer.

“That's part of the game,” Michel said of the brushback pitch from Schoen. “Me and him are good buddies. It was all in good fun. I didn't think much of it. I looked at him and smiled and he smiled back. We went back at it.  I was looking to get a good pitch to hit and he came back with a belt-high fastball, I tried to keep my hands inside and put the barrel on it.”

Nixa put up four runs after totaling five runs over its first four games.

“Our bats are starting to pick up,” Michel said. “We’re getting there. It's just a matter of time.”

A presumed strength continues to be a weakness for Nixa, as the Eagles had another baserunner picked off. Remarkably, they have already had a whole season's worth 10 baserunners picked off.

That number easily could be 11, if not for a blown call by the infield umpire on a Broden Mabe stolen base (see accompanying photo gallery). 

Nixa is back at it today at Branson. It’s the first of two meetings this season between the teams, with their April 4 contest being their COC matchup. The Eagles have won seven straight against the Pirates. 

Nixa 4, Catholic 1

Catholic 000 001 0  - 1 3 1

Nixa        003 100 x - 4 7 0 

WP - Kelly. LP - Schoen. HR - Vincent, Michel.