The Hannibal Hoots couldn't seize momentum from an impressive catch and were eliminated from playoff contention with a 6-1 loss to Chillicothe.
Wyatt Whitman sprinted back, back, back as far as he could before running out of real estate.
The Hannibal Hoots outfielder stopped in front of the short right field fence at Clemens Field, reached over and took a home run away.
“Off the bat, I thought it was gone, but I just stuck with it,” Whitman said. “The ball hung up there and it carried. Eventually I ran out of room to run, but I reached over and somehow pulled it back.”
Whitman's highlight-reel play in the seventh inning Thursday kept Hannibal within striking distance, maintaining a three-run deficit against the visiting Chillicothe Paints.
Hoots pitcher Dylan Chisholm could only tip his cap.
“Wyatt reached over and I didn't think he caught the ball,” explained Chisholm, who tossed three innings of one-run relief. “But then he put his hand up to show he made the catch. That was a fantastic play.”
The catch brought life and energy to the Hoots.
“You're looking at a play that could have turned the momentum back for us,” Hannibal manager Clayton Hicks said.
Unfortunately it was nothing more than a bright spot in the midst of a frustrating night for the Hoots.
Hannibal managed just one hit during a 6-1 defeat.
The loss eliminates the Hoots (21-31) from the Prospect League playoff race with eight games remaining in the regular season.
It came just 24 hours after Hannibal put nine runs on the board in a blowout victory at Springfield.
“Definitely tough to win with only one hit unless you throw a shutout,” Hicks said. "And it's frustrating after putting up nine runs a day ago to come back with only one hit tonight.”
Paints starting pitcher Michael Jacob struck out eight over seven innings and allowed one unearned run to claim the victory.
Daunte DeCello's single in the third inning proved to be the only hit Jacob allowed.
“Ultimately it came down to my catcher behind the plate,” Jacob said. “Dan (McCauley) did a great job with pitch calling. I executed the pitches he called and got some quick outs here and there. It really worked out.”
The Hoots took the lead with an unearned run in the first.
Patrick Donohue reached second base on an error to lead off the bottom of the frame, and Josh Lane put down a sacrifice bunt to move Donohue to third.
Hannibal No. 3 hitter Dylan Dodd sent a grounder to the right side of the infield for an RBI groundout.
“Everyone did their job and it was good example of small ball,” Hicks said of the Hoots' lone run. “But after that it was hard to get anything going.”
Chillicothe finished with 12 hits on the game.
Brendan Saak started for Hannibal and allowed three runs on six hits over four innings.
McCauley hit an RBI sac fly off Chisholm in the fifth to give Chillicothe a 4-1 lead.
The Paints added a pair of two-out tallies in the eighth for insurance.
Despite no longer being in contention, Whitman mentioned the Hoots will put forth their best effort the remainder of the summer.
Hannibal is scheduled to host Chillicothe again Friday night.
“We've got a good group of guys here who care about the game, care about playing it well and care about playing it right,” Whitman said.