Just minutes after the Hannibal baseball team pulled off an improbable upset Monday at Veterans Sports Complex, coach Daryl Zessin had a problem he wanted to address right away.
First, it's crucial to understand the setup.
In the final play of the game, Gabe Worthington came through with a walk-off RBI single that scored teammate Kevin Campbell to give Hannibal a 4-3 win over North Central Missouri Conference power Boonville.
“It was amazing,” Worthington said of the game-winner, which was his third hit of the game. “My teammates were able to get on for me, and I was able to cap it off with that hit.”
The trouble was, the scoreboard situated beyond the right-field fence wasn’t updated.
Once detected by the team, it didn't take long for a four to appear.
“We were in our meeting and the scoreboard was still 3-3,” Zessin said. “As soon as we broke up, I said, 'Somebody get up there and tell them to put 4-3 on the scoreboard because this is a win, doggone it.'”
Hannibal, which entered the seventh inning down 3-2, rallied for a pair of runs to pull off the dramatic victory.
The Pirates did so with a rally begun by the bottom three in the lineup and capped by their sophomore No. 2 hitter Worthington.
Lawson Rickey beat out a grounder to lead off the frame. After Noah Zahn reached base on a bunt, Campbell dropped down a squeeze bunt to score Rickey, who narrowly beat the tag to tie the score 3-all.
Chandler Moffitt then hit a sharp grounder that played into the hands of Boonville, which tagged out Zahn for a fielder's choice to momentarily pause the Hannibal momentum.
But on the second pitch of his at-bat, Worthington shot a single to right field to score Campbell and end Boonville's NCMC winning streak at 19.
The win, exciting in its own right, was even more remarkable based on the fact Hannibal had lost to the same Boonville squad 15-3 four days earlier.
“We know that it's baseball and literally anything can happen,” said Hannibal pitcher Scot Roberts, who tossed a complete game to earn the win. “For example, us winning 4-3 against Boonville. Nobody expected that except for us. There's 21 guys on our team, 25 including the coaches, and I think we're the only ones who thought it could happen.”
Hannibal (5-2, 5-1 NCMC) plated the first two runs in the contest in the second inning. Will Whitaker singled up the middle before Rickey and Zahn each laid down sacrifice bunts to move him to third base with two outs.
Campbell reached on an error that allowed Whitaker to score, and Worthington later roped a single to right to bring home Campbell. Hannibal almost scored a third run in the inning, but Chandler Moffitt was called out on a play at the plate to end the threat.
Hannibal's cleanup hitter John Trenhaile was involved in a scary situation in the fourth inning when he was struck in the face by his own foul tip. After several minutes, he walked off field in his own power but didn't return.
Ethan Waibel scurried home in the third on a wild pitch to plate the first Boonville (11-3, 7-1) tally, and the visitors turned the tables with three singles and a walk against Roberts in the fourth to take a 3-2 edge.
A heads-up defensive play by Hannibal in the sixth kept Boonville from growing its lead any larger. With a runner on third and two outs, second baseman Whitaker caught a pop fly and promptly threw to Campbell at the plate to gun down the runner tagging from third base.
For as much as the defense did its part, the Hannibal offense struggled in the middle innings against Boonville starter Connor Barnes and reliever Jared Viertel, who at one point combined to shut down 12 straight batters. Rickey broke that funk for Hannibal when he get the rally started in the seventh.
Roberts pitched all seven innings for Hannibal, striking out six batters while only allowing three runs on six hits — an outing Zessin called “brilliant.”
Kole Ficken, a Boonville slugger who clubbed two home runs in the meeting Thursday, only reached base once Monday night. Roberts struck him out twice.
“He stayed within himself,” Zessin said of his pitcher. “He has great confidence. He's the leader on this team and he's doing it every day.”
Refusing to quit, Hannibal won a home conference game with walk-off heroics for the second time this year.
The first came in the form of a 12-11 win over Kirksville on March 21.
“We were able to get our heads back up after that bad game (last Thursday), and we came back up here with positive minds and beat them,” Worthington said. “We're all confident now. That was one of the best teams we're going to play all year, and it just feels great knowing that we can beat them.”
Hannibal 4, Boonville 3
Boonville 001 200 0 -- 3 6 2
Hannibal 020 000 2 -- 4 5 2
HANNIBAL (5-2): WP: Scot Roberts. Top hitter: Gabe Worthington 3-for-4 2 RBIs
BOONVILLE: (11-3): LP: Jared Viertel. Top hitter: Makiah Waibel 2-for-3