COZAD – The Elwood-Eustis Bulls had taken some time off from their baseball schedule for many of their players to further other athletic activities at Football and Wrestling camps. They returned to the field on Thursday last week in Loomis where they earned their first win. It was a big win, with Ian Corder at the helm pitching a three-hitter for a 12-1 victory.
Riding the excitement and the boost of confidence in themselves, the Bulls went to Cozad on Monday with intentions to make a statement that they intend to compete with other seniors teams, despite any age differences or amount of experience. Their intention was unfortunately cut short as their scheduled doubleheader with the Reds was rained out after just two and a half innings.
Admittedly, the first inning started rough for the Bulls as they had put up one run in the top of the first when Conner Schutz hit a line drive to left field to send Zeb Knackstedt home.
The Reds responded with a five-run rally in the bottom of the first, three of which were earned on Elwood-Eustis errors. The Bulls regained their composure and took the inning to an end and started over in the top of the second inning, where both teams went scoreless for six outs.
In the bottom of the second, hail-heavy, green tinted clouds began to loom on the southern half of the sky. The wind picked up, the flags snapped in the breeze and the smell of an impending thunderstorm filled the air as the day began to look like night. No one was willing to call the game for the approaching storm as it crept closer to Muny Park.
The top of the third inning saw another run for the Bulls when, like the first inning, Schutz stood at the plate. Bulls catcher, Hunter Rios, waited at third base for Schutz to get a piece of the ball to score another run. Schutz caught a bit of the pitch with his bat, sending a ground ball to Maddux Myer at shortstop who chose to catch Schutz at first for the out, allowing Rios to cross home plate.
The top of the third ended shortly after with another shortstop-to-first play on Trevor Jorges.
The Bulls traded the plate to the Reds and just as Adam Cole was ready to begin his practice swings the rain came.
A crazy influx of high winds and water falling from the sky send the majority of players and officials into the dugouts and shelters while the Reds scrambled, even diving onto the infield tarps to keep them from blowing away and secured them onto the field. After almost 10 minutes of what seemed like a monsoon, it was apparent the game would not continue, that day.
The Elwood-Eustis Bulls trailed 2-5 when the game was called at the bottom of the third, but the Bulls management was confident before the ruckus of the storm, the Bulls were going to make a ruckus of their own.
“I feel, had it been a complete game, we would have come back,” said Elwood-Eustis Bulls head coach Keith Henggeler in a phone interview after going home to get dry. “As long as we continued playing the way we had after the bottom of the first inning, defensively, we probably would have come back.”
In the past, the Bulls have struggled with their aggression at the plate. Coach Henggeler can be quoted, several times in the past as saying, ‘the offense will come.’ It appears that much of their timid behavior at the plate has diminished and a confident group of young men have stepped up and made more contact. In fact, despite Cozad’s 2-5 lead the Bulls recorded three hits over Cozad’s two in the abbreviated game.
“I’ve been saying ‘hitting will come,’ and it finally has,” Henggeler continued about the Bulls’ progress. “We’ve been telling them to be a little more aggressive at the plate and you’re starting to see that. They’re starting to drive the ball.”
Henggeler, as well as the other coaches, have expressed their pride in taking management of the Elwood-Eustis Legion Baseball program and insist the strength of character in their players is what makes their growth possible.