Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pirates even series with 4-0 win Saturday

The Tradewater Pirates shut out the Marion Bobcats Saturday to even the season-opening series 1-1 behind a strong pitching performance by starter Ryan Tabor (0-1) and reliever Wesley Clingman, who Friday night gave up the tying runs that allowed Marion to win the game in extra innings. 

Bobcat starter Nathan Ball (0-1) went six innings, giving up only one unearned run, but was saddled with the loss.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ball to get start in Game 2 of Pirate series

Nathan Ball, a 20-year-old lefty from Northeast Texas University, will start Saturday for the Bobcats in the second contest of a three-game set at Tradewater. Ball was called on to take the mound after Jared Long was injured in an automobile accident Thursday night with teammate Ethan Utley and his father, assistant coach Perry Utley.

Long was placed on injured reserve and will likely miss half of the 2009 season with a broken collarbone.
Ball will face fellow southpaw Ryan Rogers in his first start for the Pirates.

Bobcats down Pirates in dramatic opener

The Bobcats clawed their way back from a 4-0 deficit at Tradewater to send the game to extra innings, allowing for a 7-4 win with a three-run 10th and saving a shaky start by fireballer Justin O'Brien.
It was just the kind of game Manager Steve Fowler has trademarked as a skipper over the years – small ball, chipping away at a lead run by run, one base at a time. And it was the kind of baseball not seen much in the debut season of the Marion Bobcats.
O'Brien, 18, struggled with his control before being lifted after allowing three runs through three innings, but relievers Bo Daves and Ryan Rogers combined to shut the door on the Pirates. The performance from the bullpen allowed for something not much seen in 2008, patience and clutch-hitting from an opportunistic Bobcat offense.

"We did a lot of things unheard of last year with our depth," Fowler said, pointing to a wealth of talent off the bench this year. In fact, all position players got a chance to contribute but first baseman Brett Cleveringa, who will get the start at first Saturday.

In the ninth inning, down 4-2, it appeared as if the Pirates had the game in hand with closer Wesley Clingman entering the game. But Clingman loaded the bases before being pulled without recording an out. His relief, Luke Rogers, forced in two runs on walks, tying the game 4-4 before registering his third strikeout of the inning.
Bobcat lefty Ryan Rogers, who came in for Daves to start the ninth, continued with a solid performance in the bottom of the ninth to move the game to extra innings. In the 10th frame, Fowler used a leadoff hit from Mitch McClay and back-to-back bunt hits from Mike DeSanto and Jake Martin to set the plate for Andy Harris.
"I dont' like to do it early," said Fowler, referring to DeSanto's intended sacrifice and Martin's successful bunt hit. "It's got to be close."
"They were two almost perfect bunts," he added.
With one out and the base loaded, Harris, a red-shirt freshman from Vanderbilt University, stroked a three-run double to move the Bobcats ahead for the first time in the game, ultimately giving Marion its first piece of first place since joining the KIT League in 2008.
"It was a beautiful hit," Fowler said. "It cleared the bases."
Ryan Rogers (1-0) pitched the bottom of the 10th to earn his first win and best his namesake in the Pirate dugout, Luke Rogers (0-1).
The win at Riverside Park vindicated a season-ending playoff loss in Marion to the Pirates last year and gave Fowler his sixth win since 2008 against the club he managed for seven seasons.
For the Bobcats early in the game, it was the returning faces from the inaugural season that kept the game close. Martin knocked in McClay for the first RBI and run of the new season, Daves pitched four strong innings allowing only one run and catcher Drew Williams handled three pitchers over 10 innings, throwing out one runner at second base.
But the late innings gave newcomers to the squad a chance to contribute.
In the seventh inning, outfielder Mike Rizzuto earned an RBI by drawing a bases-loaded walk from Jesse Darby that scored designated hitter Zach Sutton. Sutton had earlier chased starter Nolan Mullanney after 6 1/3 with the second single of the inning. After Rizzuto's RBI, Christian Stutts was brought in to close the inning for the Pirates, and he kept the Bobcats subdued until leaving in the ninth for Clingman's debut.
"They came together as a team," the manager said of his mix of veterans and rookies to KIT League ball. "Last year they were 20 games in trying to find themselves and still hadn't found it by mid-season."
Fowler was also happy with his starter's performance despite some issues with control.
"He had good movement on his fastball and worked several deep counts," he said of O'Brien. "He also has some jitters early... the whole team did."
Fowler used three pitchers to nail down the win, but anticipated using that number regardless of the situation. He also expects improvement in the defense, which committed two errors, as the players spend more time on the field together.
"We're not as good as were going to be when we get done," he said. "But no matter what happens the rest of the season, tonight was special."
Bobcats notes:
  • Long's injury in Thursday's auto accident will move him to the reserve list, saving Fowler from being forced to make his first cut of the season on Monday. That likely won't come until 10 games into the season when pitcher Ethan Utley is expected to come off injured reserve with a broken hand.
  • Fowler expects 35 wins will win the league in 2009 but believes a .500 record through the first 10 games of the season would be a success. That, he said, gives him time to measure his players' abilities and formulate a pitching rotation and daily line-up.
  • Pirate starter Mullanney pitched six scoreless innings before two runners he allowed in the seventh scored off Darby.
Other action around the league:

O'Brien tapped at Bobcat's Opening Night starter

Justin O'Brien, a 6-5 righty out of Arkansas State University, has drawn the season-opening start for the Bobcats Friday against Tradewater. The Pirates will send Nolan Muhlanney to the hill to face O'Brien.
In O'Brien, Manager Steve Fowler will put the ball in the hands of a fireballer. Clubhouse manager David Hunt said O'Brien's fastball was clocked at 93 mph during practice this week. General Manger Gordon Guess said the lanky pitcher's change-up would be a good fastball to most pitchers. His change-of-pace was clocked at 88 mph.
O'Brien, a native of O'Fallon, Mo., will be a freshman at ASU this fall. He weighs in at 180 pounds. He is one of eight Division I players on this year's squad, compared to only one in 2008.
"Boy, that makes a world of difference," General Manager Gordon Guess said. "We've got some horses this year."
With that "difference," the Bobcats are hoping to make a run at the league title in the club's second year of existance. And Fowler has a magic number in mind to earn that title during in the 50-game season.
"Thirty-five," he told his players Wednesday at the Meet the Bobcats event at Gordon B.Guess Field. "Thirty-five games will win the league this year."
Meantime, Tradewater sends a slightly more-seasoned arm to the mound Friday. A right-handed thrower as well, Mulhanney went 7-6 in 17 starts during his just-completed freshman year at San Bernadino Valley College. In 88.2 innings, he struck out 70 batters, but also allowed 130 batters to reach base (93 hits, 24 walks and hit 13 batters).
Tonight's game time is 7 p.m., at Riverside Park.
In Game 2 of the series Saturday at Dawson Springs, Fowler has tapped southpaw Nathan Ball to replace an injured Jared Long on the mound. Ball, a 20 year old out of Northeast Texas University, will face Ryan Tabor, a lefty from Georgia College and State University.
On Sunday, left-handed Bobcat Evan Vinyard of Lindenwood University will battle Sean Mahley, also a lefty. In 2008, Mahley was 1-2 in four starts for the Pirates posting a 2.21 ERA.
Six-foot-eight Trey Smith will pitch Monday's home opener for the Bobcats. The right-handed pitcher is a sophomore at Morehead State University. Owensboro has yet to set a rotation for that series.

Bobcats season off to ominous start

The Marion Bobcats open their season at Tradewater tonight, with the season getting off to an ominous start.

Two of Marion's players and a coach were injured in an auto accident returning home to Madisonville after practice Thursday night. 

Pitcher Jared Long, 21, will likely miss at least half the season due to a broken collarbone and potential other injuries, while the driver, Coach Perry Utley, 53, and son, pitcher Ethan Utley, 19, were less severely injured in a two-vehicle collision. Coach Utley's youngest son, Dalton, 13, was also shaken up in the accident.

"They were bruised up pretty bad," said General Manager Gordon Guess. "But thankfully, they were all wearing their seatbelts."

The wreck occurred about three miles west of Richland in Hopkins County at 9:37 p.m.

According to a Kentucky State Police report, Utley was driving a 2008 Toyota Yaris eastbound on Ky. 70, approaching the intersection of Summers Loop Road and Fiddlebow Road. The driver of the second vehicle, Pamela Patrick, 22, was attempting to cross the state highway from Summers Loop Road as Utley reached a hillcrest near the intersection. The front bumper of Utley's vehicle struck the 1998 Chevy Prizm driven by Patrick, sliding the car across Ky. 70 onto the shoulder. Utley's Yaris also came to a rest on the shoulder of the roadway at the intersection of Fiddlebow Road and Ky. 70.

Perry Utley was taken privately to Regional Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries. Long and the coach's two sons were taken to the same hospital by ambulance. Patrick and her two passengers, John Harris, 22, and Rachelle Hollis, 21, both of Madisonville, were also taken by ambulance to Regional Medical Center.

Manager Steve Fowler said Friday afternoon that the full extent of Long's injuries were not known. The right-handed pitcher was scheduled to return for tests Friday. Fowler said there is some concern over possible internal injuries.

Long will join Ethan Utley on injured reserve. Utley is still recovering from a broken hand suffered during his college season. Long will be replaced by outfielder Kirk Waligora, who will be moved from the reserve list, bringing Fowler's active roster to a full strength at 24 players. 

However, losing Long, scheduled to start Saturday's game at Tradewater, will leave the club with only 10 active pitchers. Fowler is also awaiting the arrival of outfielder Pat Murphy and right-handed pitcher Paul Chiampa, whose classes at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, do not end until today. They should be available by Monday at the latest.

Meantime, Perry Utley is expected to be in the dugout for tonight's game in Dawson Springs. The game, as well as the remaining two games in the three-game set, start at 7 p.m., at Riverside Park.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

KIT set to begin fifth season

The KIT League, or Kitty League, will open its fifth season Friday. The six-team circuit has become one of the nation's premier collegiate leagues drawing players from a wide area of the United States.

The league began in 2005 with four teams and expanded to six clubs the following year and has remained at that number. This season Sikeston, a charter member who was not active in 2008, has rejoined the league while Farmington, another charter member, will not be represented. 

The league, over the winter, considered going to eight teams for the 2009 season when it appeared that Sikeston's return would leave the league with an unwieldy seven clubs.  League members discussed creating an eighth franchise that would be a traveling team  playing all of its games on the road while being based in Paducah and Mayfield.

Shaun Yarbrough of Paducah, currently head baseball coach at Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, would have managed the barnstorming squad and had begun assembling a roster.  However, league owners decided in April that there was just not enough time to successfully expand to eight clubs, so the new franchise was put on hold and the Farmington club was given the year off.

The  league will resume discussion of expansion at the end of this season.

All six teams for this season will be in action Friday, the first of a three-game weekend series for all clubs. Marion will be at defending regular season champion Tradewater, Sikeston will be at Fulton, and Owensboro, winner of the 2008 postseason, will be at home against Union City. The complete schedule is available at

The league will again play a 50-game schedule with playoffs following the regular season.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Meet the Bobcats hosted tonight

After almost 10 months since the last out of the 2008 season at the hands of the Tradewater Pirates, the Marion Bobcats will renew the hottest rivalry in the KIT League this weekend.
The Bobcats open their 2009 campaign at 7 p.m., Friday at Riverside Park in Dawson Springs. Friday’s game will be the first of a three-game weekend series at Tradewater before Opening Night at Gordon B. Guess Field.
Marion opens its home schedule at Marion-Crittenden County Park on Monday, with the first pitch at 7:05 p.m. The Bobcats will host the 2008 league champion Owensboro Oilers for a two-game set before an off day on June 3.
But before the action begins, Bobcats fans will have an opportunity to meet the 2009 squad at a Meet the Bobcats event at 6:30 p.m., today at Guess Field. Pizza and soft drinks will be sold to fans wishing to get a glimpse of the five returning Bobcats from the 2008 roster as well as 21 new faces.
The event is free and players will be handed their jerseys during the ceremonies.
Bobcats returning the mound in 2009 will be pitchers Thomas Lee “Bo” Daves and Ethan Utley, who is on the injured reserve list  to start the season with a broken hand. In the field, second baseman Jacob Martin, outfielder Mitch McClay and catcher Drew Williams are back.
Steve Fowler remains the manager of the team this year, with Perry Utley of Madisonville and Chad Adcock of Eddyville signed on as new coaches. Adcock was a relief pitcher on last year’s Bobcat roster. Dave Hunt of Marion returns as trainer.
A late addition to the team is Josh Reynolds, a right-handed pitcher out of Calloway County High School who will be playing at Wabash Valley College in Illinois this fall. Reynolds was signed from the tryouts held in Marion last week. He is the final man on the 24-person active roster.

Bobcats open 2009 Friday at Tradewater

The weather Monday picked up right where it left off for the Marion Bobcats last year when the second edition of the team squad came together for its initial practice – rain.
About 20 of the 26 players signed for this year’s club took batting practice and threw from a muddy mound Memorial Day afternoon, many venturing out of their host quarters and meeting one another for the first time since arriving in town over the weekend.
“So far, it’s been great,” said catcher Zack Sutton of the Kansas City, Mo., area.
Sutton and fellow Missiourian, pitcher Evan Vinyard of St. Louis, joined one another for lunch at Just-A-Burg’r in Marion Tuesday. From opposite sides of the Show Me State attending different colleges, the battery mates have already become friends.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Vinyard said of the summer in Marion.
The club will have little time to practice together before the first game of the 2009 KIT League seaso
The weather Monday picked up right where it left off for the Marion Bobcats last year when the second edition of the team squad came together for its initial practice – rain.
About 20 of the 26 players signed for this year’s club took batting practice and threw from a muddy mound Memorial Day afternoon, many venturing out of their host quarters and meeting one another for the first time since arriving in town over the weekend.
“So far, it’s been great,” said catcher Zack Sutton of the Kansas City, Mo., area.
Sutton and fellow Missiourian, pitcher Evan Vinyard of St. Louis, joined one another for lunch at Just-A-Burg’r in Marion Tuesday. From opposite sides of the Show Me State attending different colleges, the battery mates have already become friends.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Vinyard said of the summer in Marion.
The club will have little time to practice together before the first game of the 2009 KIT League season. Marion travels to Dawson Springs Friday for its first game, facing a Tradewater team that outlasted the Bobcats last July in a season-ending playoff loss called because of rain. Friday's game, the first of a three-game set at the Pirate, begins at 7 p.m.
Opening night at Gordon B. Guess Field will be Monday, with the Bobcats hosting 2008 league champion Owensboro at 7:05 p.m.
Both Vinyard and Sutton, curious about fan support in Marion, are hoping for a big turnout. If returning manager Steve Fowler is right about his early impressions of the club, that shouldn’t be a problem.
"We're already 100 percent better than last year," Fowler said Monday evening after watching his team hit and throw for the first time.
Tickets for Bobcat home games will be sold at the gate for $5 for adults and $3 for children under 12. However, season packs of 10 and 25 tickets can be purchased at 20 percent off the gate price at the Marion Welcome Center and Mike’s Barber Shop, both on South Main Street in Marion.
The Bobcats’ schedule for the coming week includes:
at Tradewater, 7 p.m., Friday;
at Tradewater, 7 p.m., Saturday;
at Tradewater, 7 p.m., Sunday;
vs. Owensboro, 7:05 p.m., Monday;
vs. Owensboro, 7:05 p.m., Tuesday.
at Sikeston, 7:05 p.m., next Thursday.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Reporting date for players May 23

The dates for Bobcat players to report to Marion are May 23. Players are expected to report to the Marion Welcome Center at Marion Commons, next door to Marion City Hall at 217 S. Main St., Marion. Marion Commons is one block south of the courthouse on U.S. 60/Main Street.

There will be a representative of the Bobcats at the welcome center to meet each player and get things squared away – get you to your quarters and meet your host. If necessary, contact General Manager Gordon Guess at 965-2750 or 704-0953.
Practice begins at 6 p.m., May 25 for players already signed.
There will be open tryouts for non-contract candidates at 1 p.m., May 23.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Opening day roster available

Click the image above for a printable opening day roster for the 2009 Marion Bobcats.

Bobcat tryouts set for May 23

Open tryouts for the Marion Bobcats summer collegiate baseball team will be at 1 p.m., May 23 at Marion-Crittenden County Park. Prospects should arrive one hour prior to tryout to fill out paperwork.

Registration for the tryouts is $20 and prospective players must be college eligible. The fee is waived for anyone personally invited by the Bobcats.
Anyone interested in trying out for the team with questions should contact General Manager Gordon Guess at 965-2750 or 704-0953.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sign up for Bobcat updates

Before the season starts, Bobcats fans can sign up for notification of updates to the team Web site at

During the season, the Web site will be updated daily with scores, stats and game summaries, as well as other team news. Fans of the team can receive notification of postings immediately following any updates to the site by sending your name and e-mail address by clicking this link.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ticket packs now available at 20 percent off

Special tickets packs for Marion Bobcats baseball are now available for purchase.

Buy purchasing tickets early, fans can save 20 percent off the $5 price of an adult ticket. Season packs of 25 tickets are available for only $100. There are no restrictions on the passes, so single or multiple tickets can be used at any game during the season.  Packets of 10 adult tickets are also available for $40, with no restrictions on those passes either.
The ticket packages are available at Marion Welcome Center at Marion Commons on South Main Street or at Mike's Barber Shop, also on South Main.
There are 25 home contests at Gordon B. Guess Field at Marion-Crittenden County Park. Pocket schedules courtesy of Johnson's Furniture and Appliance should be available this week. Poster schedules for display in local businesses or public settings are being distributed now. If you would like a poster schedule for display in your place of business, contact General Manager Gordon Guess at 965-2750 or 704-0953.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Another revision made to Bobcats schedule

Due to conflicts related to scheduling a field for play in Sikeston, four dates on the Bobcats' new 50-game schedule have been adjusted.

Bobcats General Manager Gordon Guess said the Bulls were unable to secure their baseball diamond at VFW Memorial Stadium for use on two dates in June, forcing the teams to swap locations for four dates. The change will break up a long homestand for the Bobcats, sending Marion to Sikeston on June 4 after the home schedule at Gordon B. Guess Field begins three days earlier. The last two games of the three-game set with the Bulls will return to Marion on June 5 and 6.
Another swap between the two teams will send the Bobcats west again on June 15 to play the first of a two-game series with the Bulls in Sikeston. The teams will play the final game of the short series in Marion.
Those two date changes were made to accommodate a field scheduling conflict in Sikeston on June 24 and 25, for which a two game series between the Bulls and Bobcats was originally scheduled to take place in Missouri. Those two games will now be played in Marion.
Printed poster and pocket schedules for the Bobcats are expected to be available next week, as well as early ticket sales. These early tickets will be available in both 25-game season packets and 10-game packets, each selling at 20 percent off the normal $5 ticket rate for adults.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Revised schedule released

The new KIT League schedule, revised when two teams were dropped from the circuit, has been released, with Marion opening the season at Tradewater on May 29. The Bobcats will debut at home after a three-game set in Dawson Springs to start the year, hosting Owensboro on June 1.
The Bobcats will play a 50-game schedule, facing each of the five league opponents 10 times – five home and five away games – just as last year. The schedule features eight scheduled off-days, with the regular season ending July 25. The playoffs begin two days later.
Marion will open the season at Gordon B. Guess Field for the longest homestand of the year, nine games between June 1 and June 11.  July 4, initially scheduled as a doubleheader before the league shrank from eight to six teams, will be now on the road at Sikeston. There are no doubleheaders planned for 2009, and home games begin at 7:05 p.m. Most road games will also start at 7 or 7:05 p.m.
There will be no all-star contest in 2009.
The postseason format in 2009 will also be the same as in 2008, with the No. 6 seed traveling to the No. 3 seed, and the No. 5 to the No. 4, each for a one game playoff. The three-game semifinal series will begin July 28, with the winner of the 6-3 game facing the No. 2 seed and the winner of the 5-4 contest facing the regular season champion. The championship series – three games – would begin July 31.