By Coach Harv Antle
HARTVILLE, Mo. – The Licking Wildcats advanced to the championship game of the Class 3 District 9 Tournament at Hartville by virtue of an 8-1 victory over the Mansfield Lions on Monday afternoon, May 16.
Licking struck first with two first-inning runs. Cole Wallace singled to lead off in the bottom of the first and moved to third on a Malachi Antle double.
Rusty Buckner singled in Wallace, and Antle scored on a Keyton Cook fielder’s choice. Wildcat starting pitcher Kannon Buckner kept Mansfield off the scoreboard through the first two frames but ran into trouble in the third.
Rusty Buckner came on in relief and faced a bases loaded, one out situation. Buckner ended the threat with a strikeout and a fly out.
Leading 3-0 in the third, the Wildcats added a run after Keyton Cook doubled, advanced on a ground out, and scored on a wild pitch. Buckner remained unscored upon until the fifth.
With one run in, Mansfield loaded the bases with two outs. Buckner induced a pop up that nobody seemed to want to catch and, at the last second, Cole Wallace made a sliding catch on the backside of the mound to avoid further damage.
Holding a 4-1 advantage, Licking added four insurance runs in the sixth, all with two outs. Keyton Cook recorded the last six outs on the mound to send Licking to the championship game Tuesday versus Hartville, a 6-4 winner over Houston.
Offensively for Licking, Wallace was 2-for-3 with three runs scored. Malachi Antle went 2-for-4 with an RBI, Rusty Buckner swatted three hits and knocked in two runs, while Cook and Silas Antle each had a hit and an RBI.
With the win, Licking improved to 17-4 on the spring.
The 2022 spring season ended for the Licking Wildcats on Tuesday night, May 17, with a 10-4 loss to the Hartville Eagles in the Class 3 District 9 championship.
“We didn’t pitch it very well tonight and we didn’t execute at the plate with men on base,” explained Coach Harv Antle.
Licking pitchers issued nine walks and hit two batters. On the offensive side of the ball, the Wildcats left 11 runners on base.
Austin Stephens took the loss for Licking. Keyton Cook went 2-for-3 and drove in a run to lead a limited offensive attack. Cole Wallace, Malachi Antle and Kannon Buckner also picked up hits for Licking.
Licking finished the spring at 17-5 and 34-9 overall, fall and spring combined. Along the way the Wildcats captured Frisco League Tournament and Houston Tournament titles to go with their runner up finish in the district.