Despite taking an early one-run lead in the top of first inning, the Hannibal Cavemen fell to the Springfield Sliders 7-2 on Saturday, June 20.

 Despite taking an early one-run lead in the top of first inning, the Hannibal Cavemen fell to the Springfield Sliders 7-2 on Saturday, June 20. The Springfield offense tallied 14 hits off Cavemen starter Brenden Kleekamp, led by three hits from first baseman Drew Curtis. Springfield erased the early deficit after scoring runs in the second, third, and fourth innings. Their offense was helped by a surprising breakout game from outfielder Matt Hilmes; after recording only two RBI up to this point in the season, the freshman from Quincy University plated three runs to back Sliders’ starter Kellen Rholl, who was able to notch his first win of the season.

The Cavemen offense was never able to get completely off the ground, despite a good start. Justin Blechle was able to get on base in first inning after being hit by a pitch, and after stealing second base, came around to score on a single by shortstop Brett Marr. Hannibal would not tally another run until the eighth inning, finishing with six hits on the day. Marr and outfielder Ryan Snyder both had two hits on the day, with each knocking in one of the two Cavemen runs. 

“Coach was just preaching from the beginning, with a soft thrower like that, a guy who’s trying to carve you up, you just really got to work middle away. That’s what I was focusing on. He left me one inside and I was able to drive it to the left side,” Marr said. “You got to tip your cap to them. When you put up eight runs… They just had a good day. Hopefully we can start having some of those good days and return the favor.”

Kleekamp was not at his finest in his fourth start of the season, allowing five earned runs on eight hits across six innings. His command was off for most of the day, as the right-hander walked five batters and continually got into deep counts against the Springfield hitters. D.J. Hickey came on in relief, but allowed five hits and two runs of his own as the Sliders were able to notch another two runs in the seventh and eighth innings.

Stefan Miladinovich, who leads the Prospect League in RBI with 16, had a rest day and did not play in the game. The Cavemen go on the road on Sunday to play at Springfield before playing back-to-back home games against the Kokomo Jackrabbits on Tuesday and Wednesday.