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Strong start for Spring Baseball season

By Coach Harv Antle

LICKING, Mo. – After the first two weeks of the high school baseball season, the Licking Wildcats stand at 6-0 and are at the top of the MHSBCA Class 3 rankings. Below is a recap of games through Easter weekend:

LICKING 6, PORTAGEVILLE 3

Licking opened the season in Mountain View against the Portageville Bulldogs and won the contest 6-3 behind the pitching of Keyton Cook and Rusty Buckner. Buckner also clubbed a 3-run home run for Licking.

Cook started for the Wildcats and was the winning pitcher after he logged four innings of two-hit ball. He allowed two runs, both earned, and fanned four.

Buckner’s homer came in the first and Licking never trailed. Later, Silas Antle and Kale Cook hit back-to-back home runs. Both were solo shots.

LICKING 4, MOUNTAIN GROVE 0

Licking opened the Houston Wood Bat Tournament with a 4-0 shutout over Mountain Grove. Silas Antle and Austin Stephens combined on the mound to hold the Panthers scoreless.

Antle was the winner, going five innings in which he allowed no hits, one walk and struck out 12. Stephens worked the final two frames and kept the shutout intact while surrendering one hit and fanning three.

Offensively, Licking scored two runs in the third and two more in the sixth. Rusty Buckner and Kale Cook collected RBI hits for the Wildcats while Karson Walker scored twice.

LICKING 7, HOUSTON 0

The Licking Wildcats secured the championship of the Houston Wood Bat Tournament with a 7-0 shutout over the host Tigers.

Kellar Davis turned in a gem on the mound for Licking. The senior went the distance for the win and allowed just one hit over seven innings and struck out 14.

Kale Cook carried the big stick for the Wildcats with three hits in four trips, and he also drove in three runs. Keyton Cook went 2-for-4 while Rusty Buckner scored three runs.

LICKING 1, CROCKER 0

The Licking Wildcats edged the Crocker Lions 1-0 to open the home portion of the spring schedule.

Scoreless through six innings, Licking pushed across a run in the bottom of the seventh for the victory. Austin Stephens got the Wildcat win in relief of starter Keyton Cook.

Cook worked the first six innings and gave no runs on two hits and fanned nine before the pitch count ended his outing.

Licking managed just three hits in the contest. Kannon Buckner, Keyton Cook and Kale Cook all singled.

The JV Wildcats made their season debut with a 15-3 win in the nightcap. Isaac Rinne was the winning pitcher for Licking.

Cole McCloy went 4-for-4 with six RBIs to pace the Licking offense. Conway Adey singled twice and drove in a pair of runs.

LICKING 20, AVA 2

Licking ran its winning streak to five games with a 20-2 victory over the Ava Bears. Silas Antle picked up the win for Licking on the mound with five innings of three-hit, two-run ball.

Jordan Ritz worked a scoreless inning in relief that saw him strike out the side. The Wildcats banged out 16 hits in the win.

Keyton Cook showed the way at the plate with a 4-for-4 performance that included three doubles and three RBIs for Licking. Antle was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, and Rusty Buckner went 2-for-3 with a homer and four runs scored, while Kale Cook had a pair of hits and three runs scored. Kannon Buckner drove in three runs on two hits and Austin Stephens doubled and knocked in three runs.

Licking took the JV contest 11-2. Conway Adey was the winning pitcher for the Wildcats.

Jordan Ritz cracked a 2-run triple for Licking while Jasper McCloy drove in two runs on a double. Karson Walker singled and scored twice, as did Cole McCloy.

LICKING 8, FAIR GROVE 6

The Licking Wildcats survived a late rally from Fair Grove and downed the Eagles 8-6 to remain unbeaten. The victory moved the Wildcats’ record to 6-0 on the spring.

Kellar Davis picked up his second win on the mound for Licking. In six innings he allowed three runs, two earned, on five hits while fanning seven.

Austin Stephens got two outs in the seventh before Kale Cook came on to record the final out and notch the save. Licking had built leads of two runs and seven runs before Fair Grove rallied to pull within two in the seventh, with the tying runs on base and the go-ahead run at the plate.

Rusty Buckner went 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs to lead the Wildcat offensive attack. Kale Cook rapped out two hits and knocked in two runs, and Davis had a pair of hits and two RBIs to help his cause.

Licking lost the JV game 5-3. Karson Walker took the loss on the mound for Licking in relief of starter Cole McCloy.

Conway Adey and Nate Gambill had the only hits for Licking. The JV Wildcats record slipped to 2-1 with the loss.

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