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Archive for September, 2012

The Astros are in prime position to have an impact on the race for the second National League Wild Card spot, specifically the prospects of the Cardinals.

The Astros and Cardinals begin a three-game series Tuesday at Busch Stadium, then play another three games next week in Houston.

In between, the Astros play three games against the Pirates and later play three games against the Brewers, both of whom are still in the tight NL Wild Card race.

The Cardinals beat the Dodgers, 5-2, in 12 innings, Sunday to take a one-game lead over Los Angeles for the second Wild Card spot.

St. Louis is 2 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers and three games ahead of the Pirates.

The Astros just finished dealing a blow to the Phillies’ playoff aspirations, taking three of four from Philly, including a 7-6 victory Sunday.

Fernando Abad, a promising but winless lefty, will start Tuesday for the Astros. Kyle Lohse, who has the best winning percentage (.824)  in the Majors among starting pitchers, will get the call for the Cardinals.

Abad spent the first four months of the season in the Astros’ bullpen and Triple-A Oklahoma City before being converted into a starter.

In four starts in the Majors, Abad is 0-4 with a 6.89 ERA, though he put up good numbers as a starter in the Minor Leagues (15-11, 2.37 ERA). The Astros have yet to see that kind of success as a starter at the Major League level.

On Wednesday, Abad struggled once again in a 5-1 setback to the Cubs. He gave up one run and four hits in 3 1/3 innings, but struggled and constantly pitched from behind in the count.

“It was tough to watch him early,” Astros manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “There were a lot of deep counts and he fell behind and didn’t seem he could locate his fastball early, and it was time for him to come out of the game when the situation came.”

The Astros are committed to Abad in the rotation for the time being as they employ a six-man rotation, but they would like to see progress.

“Abad is going to have to battle,” DeFrancesco said. “We’re trying to get him to make quality pitches and he’s working hard in his bullpens and his sides and he’s just got to bring it across the lines.”

Lohse, who will be making his 31st start, is 14-3 with a 2.81 ERA, but he lost his last start even though he pitched well in a 3-2 loss to the Padres on Wednesday.

Lohse had an eight-game winning streak snapped despite a six-inning effort in which he struck out eight and gave up just two earned runs.

“He was sharp right from the beginning. Those are starts we need to capitalize on,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “But certainly, he did what he could do.”

One of those earned runs came when Padres second baseman Logan Forsythe homered in the second inning.

“That was a tough one,” Lohse said of the outing. “I felt really good, made a mistake, gave up a home run, and the other ones, I felt they did a good job of hitting some decent pitches.”

Astros: Martinez eager to play spoilerOutfielder J.D. Martinez’s attitude is typical of how his team is approaching the end of the season.

“That’s really what we have fun with now,” Martinez said. “We know we have no chance for the playoffs, and now we just want to have a good time and play spoiler and have fun while we do it.”

Cardinals: Boggs expected backReliever Mitchell Boggs is expected to be available Tuesday after Monday’s off-day.

Boggs had some lower back tightness during his appearance on Saturday and was not available Sunday.

Worth noting• This will be the Astros’ last trip to St. Louis as a member of the NL. The Astros and Cardinals will play next year in St. Louis in a two-game Interleague series on July 9-10.

• Tuesday’s game begins a stretch of nine straight games against sub-.500 teams for the Cardinals. In addition to the six games against the Astros, they have three games remaining with the Cubs.

The Missouri State West Plains Grizzlies played their first home game of the season Friday night at the West Plains Civic Center.  The Grizzlies sent fans away happy with a 3-1 victory against John A. Logan.

Scores were:
MSU: 25-9

MSU: 25-22

John A. Logan: 19-20

MSU: 25-10

The next match for the Lady Grizzlies will be against Mineral Area College on Tuesday September 25th at 6PM.

LOS ANGELES — Despite winning just twice on this seven-game West Coast swing, the Cardinals leave Los Angeles on Sunday still looking down on all the teams eyeing the Wild Card spot they still hold.

After the Cards were held scoreless for 10 innings, Jon Jay ripped a two-out, two-strike double that manager Mike Matheny described afterward as one of the “biggest hits of the year right now.” It’s a label that’s hard to counter, as Jay’s first hit in six at-bats on the day drove home the go-ahead run in a critical 5-2, 12-inning victory at Dodger Stadium.

“Every win is big,” Jay said. “Every game is our most important game. We know what’s at stake. We’ve been here before. We know what we have to do.”

The lead for the second National League Wild Card was up for grabs on Sunday. Because the Dodgers and Cardinals entered with 76-70 records, one team was guaranteed to exit with a one-game advantage. It’s the Cardinals, who managed to lose only a half-game over their nearest Wild Card competition despite not winning a series on this road trip.

“I don’t know if must-win is the right phrase, but it was pretty darn close to a must-win,” said Jason Motte, who ended a day in which the Cards’ bullpen tossed six scoreless innings. “You see the scoreboard before the game … you know where everybody is.”

“That was a big win,” added starter Adam Wainwright. “If we lost today, you run the risk of guys hanging their heads. I don’t think this group would do it, but you still run the risk of it. It was a good win to avoid that.”

Jay’s opportunity to hit in the 12th was a credit to the Cardinals’ pitching staff and particularly to the bullpen for even getting the game there.

Wainwright set the tone with a six-inning start marred only by Andre Ethier’s game-tying, two-run blast in the third. It followed a walk to eight-hole hitter Matt Treanor.

Wainwright otherwise allowed only four other hits. He maneuvered around a leadoff double by Matt Kemp in the sixth inning in order to exit with the game tied at 2.

“It didn’t really matter to me as long as we won that game,” Wainwright said. “We just had to win that game.”

With Edward Mujica (workload) and Mitchell Boggs (lower back tightness) unavailable, Matheny knew he’d have to rely heavily on some of his lesser experienced pitchers. Rookie Trevor Rosenthal was called upon first and did a superb job. He struck out four in two scoreless innings.

The bounceback came after Rosenthal took a loss two days ago when he couldn’t hold a lead. That was in just his 12th Major League appearance.

“I just feel fortunate to be able to come in in those big situations and earn respect from my teammates, first of all, and then the coaching staff to keep putting me in those situations,” Rosenthal said.

Fernando Salas pitched two scoreless frames next and did a masterful job escaping potential game-ending trouble in the 10th. The Dodgers advanced a runner to third with one out. After intentionally walking Ethier, Salas ended the threat by getting Matt Kemp to fly out.

Rookie Shelby Miller took the mound in the 11th and worked around a single. It was the only one of Miller’s three big league appearances that have come with a game on the line.

“To see him have that poise, that’s very impressive to go along with the stuff,” Matheny said. “I think Rosenthal has earned that [opportunity] already [to pitch in high-leverage spots]. I think Shelby is still earning his stripes. But today was obviously a huge step in that direction.”

With the Cardinals scoring an inning after Miller entered, the organization’s top pitching prospect was also sent off with his first Major League win.

“It’s obviously a moment to remember for me,” Miller said. “It’s unbelievable. Not a lot of people get their first win in the big leagues and I have now. It’s one of the top things that have happened in my life so far.”

The achievement was solidified by Jay, who came to bat with Matt Carpenter on second and two outs in the 12th. Facing  John Ely, he doubled off a changeup. Crucial, too, was the Cardinals’ ability to tack on.

Three batters later, the Cardinals added an insurance run when the Dodgers couldn’t turn an Allen Craig grounder into an inning-ending forceout. Yadier Molina drew a bases-loaded walk to force home another.

Motte, who blew his seventh save of the year on Saturday, closed out the win without issue.

“It’s one of those games where everybody is trying to make pitches and trying to scratch for a run,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who used a franchise-record 10 pitchers. “We couldn’t do it.”

It was, at least, an uplifting ending to a road trip during which the Cardinals struggled to sustain any momentum on offense. That’s why the club heads home having lost five of its last seven, even though the starting pitching provided a 3.55 ERA during that span.

The offense stirred early against Dodgers starter Stephen Fife and nearly knocked him out of his fourth Major League start before he got through an inning. But after jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Cardinals left two stranded with Fife’s strikeouts of David Freese and Skip Schumaker.

Those were the first of the Dodgers’ 15 strikeouts. Fife had nine of them and settled down enough to make it through five innings.

“We had a tough time today,” Matheny said. “You look at the scoreboard and all those Ks…. We fought to get anything going, but fortunately it happened at the right time.”

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It’s Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cabool Tournament results



Lost to Cabool 23, 15; Willow Springs 23-15

Beat Plato  20, 15; Willow Springs 25, 25

Lost to Liberty 25, 25; Willow Springs 15, 14

Split with Thayer 23, 25; Willow Springs 25-19


The top 4 teams from the White pool advanced to the playoff tournament. The 4th seed (Willow Springs) played the top team from Blue pool (Mountain Grove).  Mountain Grove 25, 25; Willow Springs 9, 14


Willow Springs finished 1-3-1

Par for the Course

Tom Benyo Class A GCSAA

Willow Springs Municipal Golf Course

Leagues   Church League had a 4- person scramble and the winners at 2 under par were Kaye Tipton, Glen Davis, and Linda and Tom Benyo.

The Cat and Dog League winners were Patsy Wyatt and Chris Cutler who shot a 33. Second place winners with a 34 were Sherri and Tommy Nevill.  Sherri also won closest to the pin.

Tournament   Next Saturday September 22 will be the last Senior Tournament of the year beginning at 10 AM.  The 2-person scramble will cost $40 per player.  Any players 55 and older can play.  Call 469-1214 to sign up or sign up in the pro shop.

LOS ANGELES — For all that has been made about the improved stability at the back end of the Cardinals’ bullpen, Friday’s middle-relief meltdown again exposed a hole this club has been fighting to mask for most of the season.

Los Angeles scored seven of the game’s final eight runs in its 8-5 victory over the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. Five of those runs came off the Cards’ bullpen, which was charged with locking down the one-run lead starter Joe Kelly handed over. The biggest blow — on a night when the two clubs combined for five home runs — was the last of that bunch, a three-run, go-ahead blast by Luis Cruz in the sixth.

The Dodgers, whose bullpen contrastingly held strong in its 4 2/3 innings, never let the Cardinals back in. That allowed Los Angeles to reduce the Cardinals’ lead for the second National League Wild Card spot to one game.

“Obviously, as you could tell, I thought we swung real well vs. their starter and got some good pitches to hit and took advantage of them,” said Matt Carpenter, whose solo homer was one of three dingers St. Louis hit early off starter Chris Capuano. “But their bullpen came in and did a really good job throwing strikes and making pitches.”

That was precisely what the Cardinals’ relief corps couldn’t do.

While Kelly never lost a lead, the Cardinals starter twice let the Dodgers pull to within one. He fell behind hitters with regularity, and with the heart of the Dodgers’ order coming up in the sixth, manager Mike Matheny ended Kelly’s day instead of risking further damage.

“He was fighting,” Matheny said. “It was one of those days where we needed the bullpen to come in and pick him up in those middle innings.”

Needing someone to bridge the gap from Kelly to the late-inning sequence of Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte, Matheny turned to rookie Trevor Rosenthal. The decision to go with Rosenthal over either of his two lefty relievers, Matheny explained afterward, came with little debate, even though two of the first three batters Rosenthal were to face hit from the left side.

“To me, Rosenthal has been throwing the ball as good as anybody we have right now,” Matheny said. “We’ve been continuing to put him in high-leverage situations and he’s thrown the ball well. There’s lots of options, but right there I feel very good about him coming in.”

Rosenthal, who had contributed two scoreless innings already this road trip, allowed a leadoff single to Andre Ethier. With two outs, he plunked Hanley Ramirez.

Matheny saw it time to turn the inning over to Mujica. It did not, however, end uneventfully.

A first-pitch changeup — one that Luis Cruz appeared to be anticipating — was deposited over the left-field wall. Cruz, whose three-run homer helped down the Cardinals back on July 23, had provided deja vu with his fifth home run.

“I came in and tried to throw my best pitch, my changeup, to try and get a ground ball in that situation right there,” Mujica said. “They know I’m going to throw the changeup. They just make an adjustment. It’s my best pitch, but I just leave it right in the middle. I mean, like, right in the middle.”

Mujica, who began his tenure in St. Louis with 18 straight scoreless appearances, has now been scored upon in two of his last three games. Afterward, he denied that recent results had anything to do with fatigue.

The bullpen unraveled further in the seventh, as Los Angeles scored twice more when Matt Holliday came up short in his diving attempt to nab a looping liner by Adrian Gonzalez. Both runs were charged to reliever Sam Freeman, who opened the inning by giving up a walk and a single. Gonzalez’s hit came off lefty Marc Rzepczynski, the Cardinals’ third pitcher of the frame.

Seven of the eight Dodger runs on Friday, including those final two, came with two outs. Los Angeles hadn’t scored more than four runs in any of its last nine games.

“The positive thing out of tonight was the fact they got out to an early lead, had some momentum … yet we were able to come back and grind to battle back,” said Dodgers outfielder Shane Victorino. “[It’s] something we haven’t been able to do.”

Early on, a Cardinals offense that has recently struggled to string together hits avoided such issues by simply sending balls out of the park. Yadier Molina and Carpenter sent solo shots out in the second. Holliday’s two-run blast in the third put St. Louis up, 4-1.

Capuano was out before the end of the fifth.

By then, though, the Dodgers had already climbed back to within one. After issuing a two-out walk, Kelly served up a two-run homer to Ethier in the bottom of the third.

“I gave him a cookie, 3-0,” Kelly said. “Falling behind the best hitter in their lineup came back and bit me in the butt.”

Though Kelly was clearly battling his command, he worked around infield hits in the fourth and fifth to preserve the 4-3 lead. His pitch count sat at 67 when the night ended for Kelly, who exited in line for his sixth win.

“I was just trying to make too many adjustments, I think,” Kelly said. “I was just a hair away from getting a ton of innings in there. I felt good. I was just a click away.”

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It’s Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Week 4 Friday High School Recap:

In a game that ended late Friday night due to a power outage in the fourth quarter, the Cabool Bulldogs continued their hunt for their first win of the season.  Brad McNew reports:

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Final: Cabool 12, Houston 27


The Liberty Eagles traveled to Ava Friday night to take on the Bears.  The Eagles went in undefeated.  Dave Quinn reports:

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Final: Liberty 26, Ava 27


It was Homecoming for the West Plains boys as they hosted Hillcrest.  West Plains had a chance to get on the board in the fourth quarter, but a fumble ruined it.  The final score was Hillcrest 20 West Plains 0.


Friday night the Willow Springs Bears paid a visit to the Mt. Grove Panthers, final of that game was :
Mt. Grove 43 over Willow Springs 13.



This week Gary Lee talks to area coaches about this week’s upcoming games:

Coach Swafford of Ava:

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Liberty head coach, Coach Acklin:

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Coach Matt Perkins of Willow Springs:

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Thayer head coach, Coach Webber:

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and West Plains head coach, Coach Ary:

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LOS ANGELES — At risk of being caught in the Wild Card race by a similarly sputtering team, the Cardinals, in a welcome development, overcame continued inefficiency on offense with just enough clutch hitting and a strong performance from rotation returner Lance Lynn.

The timely hitting that eluded the Cardinals during a series sweep in San Diego wasn’t exactly bountiful on Thursday. But with an early RBI single by Skip Schumaker and a go-ahead one in the seventh by Allen Craig, it was sufficient enough because of the pitching that backed it.

With what manager Mike Matheny labeled as one of the club’s best pitching performances of the season — certainly accurate given the circumstance and individual involved — Lynn led the Cardinals to a 2-1 victory in front of 43,309 at Dodger Stadium, boosting St. Louis’ lead over Los Angeles for the second National League Wild Card to two games.

“You definitely want to get off to a good start here against a team we’re fighting for a Wild Card spot with,” said Lynn, now a 15-game winner. “It’s good to get in there and do my part and help the team win.”

While the Cardinals are not in must-win territory yet, this win was crucial.

It snapped a three-game losing streak and moved the Cardinals to 4-4 in head-to-head games against L.A. this year. That record would come into play in the case of a Wild Card tie.

“It was a big win,” said closer Jason Motte, who stranded the potential tying run at second as he sealed his 34th save. “After losing three in a row, especially this late in the season, you know you have to win.”

As frustrated as the Cardinals have been with their own offensive deficiencies, they ran into a club with even bigger problems. The Dodgers have scored just three runs in their past 36 innings. They have dropped seven of their last eight games.

That, along with retooled mechanics and a renewed perspective from Lynn, allowed the right-hander to thrive in his first start since Aug. 24. Bumped out of the rotation because of ineffectiveness and suspicion of fatigue, Lynn was pushed back in when Jake Westbrook went down with an oblique injury.

Lynn’s readiness for this outing, though, wasn’t fostered spur of the moment. It was a process that unfolded over the past three weeks.

“I feel like what happened in August shouldn’t have happened,” Lynn said. “I got into a funk there and ran into some good teams. That’s part of it. But it’s all about trying to get out of the funk and helping your team win.”

To do that, Lynn went back to more simplified mechanics. He eliminated his over-the-head motion in his delivery on Thursday and was noticeably smoother in his finish. Improved command, velocity and movement all followed.

“I think that just says volumes about him and his makeup,” Matheny said. “It was a tough transition for him going into the ‘pen. He showed that he learned some things and couldn’t wait to get back out there and still prove to everybody that he has the stuff to start.”

Lynn limited the Dodgers to five hits and one run, that coming in the first inning, which has been a nemesis to Lynn all season. Of the 65 runs Lynn has given up as a starter this year, 24 have come in the opening frame.

A double play helped Lynn evade additional first-inning damage. He used another double play — the less traditional strikeout-caught stealing type — to erase a runner in the fourth. In Lynn’s final inning, the sixth, he stranded two by getting Hanley Ramirez on a flyout to deep left-center.

“We’re not scoring runs,” Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp said. “The pitchers are doing their jobs. One run is not going to win games when we play teams like this. We’ve got to do a better job of scoring runs.”

St. Louis, which won for just the fourth time when scoring two or fewer runs, erased the deficit with three consecutive second-inning singles off Dodgers starter Josh Beckett. Additional run-scoring opportunities against Beckett, though, went untapped.

Consecutive strikeouts left the bases full in the fourth. A chance to push in front in the sixth was sapped when Craig, after leading off the inning with a double, had Yadier Molina’s grounder to short hit him as he attempted to move up.

In the seventh, however, Craig came up clutch.

Shane Robinson led off with a pinch-hit walk and moved to second on Matt Carpenter’s single. With two out and two strikes, Craig chopped a single through the right side. It improved Craig’s batting average with runners in scoring position to .394, the best such mark in the league.

It also gave the Cardinals their first lead since the third inning on Tuesday.

“Just to get a lead in a game was big for us,” Craig said. “We know we’re in a good spot still with the extra Wild Card. If we keep playing well, it’s going to go down to the wire, and we feel like we’re going to be right in it.”

Even with a still sometimes wasteful offense, the Cardinals helped their chances by doing a lot of other little things right, too.

Molina, Carlos Beltran and Schumaker finished 7-for-10 from the Nos. 5-7 spots in the order. The defense, highlighted by Beltran turning a Beckett single into a putout at first base, played steady. And Molina twice threw out a runner trying to swipe second. The usual late-inning string of relievers — Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte — did its part, too.

Where the biggest cap tip went, though, was undisputable.

“It’s all second,” Matheny said, “to the story of what Lance did to give us a chance today.”

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It’s Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Both teams win first game, lose 2nd game but bounced back to win match.

JV Scores: Willow Springs 25, 21, 25; Thayer 21, 25, 20


Varsity Scores: Willow Springs (25, 11, 25); Thayer (13, 25, 18) Records: WS 2-5/1-0 in conf; Thayer 0-7/0-1 in conf

In Game 1

Kyla Hutsell scored first 10 points, had 7 assist; Kendra Aldridge 5 aces; Shilo Letterman 3 kills, 2 digs and a block. Shelby Bridwell 2 digs and 3/4 serve reception.

In Game 2

Down 4-1 early; Down 2-10 and then 10-22. Finished the game with a missed serve and two bad passes. We had a total of 3 kills, 3 assist, 2 blocks and 2 digs. Too many freeballs and 18 reception errors. It was kinda disappointing after playing such a flawless first game.


In Game 3

Started well and continued to play well. (lost video at point 8)


“Played a great match. We had hustle, enthusiasm, they were fun to watch and the crowd was awesome. I hope that this is the start of something special.”


Next Contest: Cabool Tournament- Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cabool, Thayer, Liberty and Plato are in our pool and Mtn Grove, Puxico, Ava and Strafford in the other. Games start at 9:00. The top 3 teams from each pool will advance to playoffs.