Hannibal fights way to stunning comeback victory

Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 9:52 pm

The Hannibal baseball team has some serious fight.

Down by six runs after five innings, Hannibal roared back with home runs by Scot Roberts and Kevin Campbell and a game-winning single by Gabe Worthington to defeat Mexico 13-12 on the road Tuesday night.

"It was a little bit crazy," Hannibal coach Daryl Zessin understated. "The kids were battling. They kept fighting. They definitely didn't have their jaws dropped and they hadn't given up." 

Roberts hit a three-run jack over the left-field fence with two outs in the sixth inning to cut the Pirates' deficit in half. His homer, Hannibal's first of the season, scored Chandler Moffitt and Worthington.

That paved the way to a thrilling seventh inning.

After Lawson Rickey reached on an error, Campbell elevated a 1-0 pitch beyond the left-field wall for another goner. This one pulled Hannibal within 12-11.

"He's my short little catcher," Zessin said of Campbell. "He's strong as an ox. He swings from his heels, that's for sure, and he finally got ahold of one."

The next two batters struck out, bringing Wyatt Waelder to the dish. One strike away from a loss, Waelder singled on a fly ball to center field. Moffitt followed that with a double to left field to put runners on second and third for Worthington, the walk-off hero of Monday's 4-3 win over North Central Missouri Conference rival Boonville. 

Worthington shot a grounder to left field that scored Waelder and Moffitt to give Hannibal a 13-12 lead. 

"For the second night in a row, (Worthington) came up and slashed a single, and we scored both those runs, the tying run and the winning run," Zessin said of Worthington, who finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs. "He's just on fire right now."

Noah Zahn entered the contest needing three outs to close out the Pirates' sixth conference win. The senior proved up to the task, tossing 16 pitches to earn a strikeout and two popups to seal the deal.

"Early on in the season, I gave (Zahn) an inning in relief, and he admitted he was nervous," Zessin said. "He wasn't nervous this time. He was ready to go, and he closed the door." 

Hannibal took a 3-0 lead in the first inning and led by as many as four early in the contest.

In the first, Roberts doubled home Worthington before he and Will Whitaker each scored on errors. An inning later, Waelder hit a sacrifice fly to right field to bring home Zahn.

But Mexico countered with one in the second and two in the third before exploding in the fourth inning for five runs — including three on a home run by Quinton Baumgartner — to take an 8-5 edge.

Waelder pitched the first four innings for Hannibal, throwing 99 pitches while striking out five. Of his nine runs allowed, only one was earned as the Pirates committed five errors on the day.

"Mexico came to play," Zessin said. "They've struggled. They're 1-10 right now. But they've got some kids who can hit the ball, and they sure enough did."

Campbell singled home Evan Sanders in the top of the fifth to pull within two runs, but Mexico countered with four tallies off Hannibal reliever Whitaker in the bottom of the frame to go up 12-6.

That's when Hannibal went into comeback mode.

Whitaker, who wound up with the win, shut Mexico down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth to keep the Pirates within striking distance. His outing set up the fateful top of the seventh and Zahn's clutch save. 

Every member of the Hannibal starting lineup scored at least once during the contest. Roberts led with four RBIs, while Campbell went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Colton Brown reached base twice. 

"We could've folded when we were down 12-6 in the fifth, and we didn't," Zessin said. "That speaks volumes of our kids' character and will to battle. It's something we've tried to breed from the very beginning of the season, and it just continues to grow."

Hannibal (6-2, 6-1 NCMC) hosts Fulton at 5 p.m. on Thursday at Veterans Sports Complex.




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