The wait was long.
About 335 days to be exact.
After being rained out in its scheduled season opener, the Malcolm Senior Legion baseball team finally got to take the field June 21 in Osceola. It was the first baseball game played by the boys from Malcolm since last July 21. Shelby-Osceola-Stromsburg (SOS) got the best of Malcolm with a 15-7 win.
Things looked promising at the start as Hayden Frank hit a solo home run over the left field fence in the top of the first inning.
“It was my first home run ever,” Frank said. “I didn’t think the ball was going out until I looked at (Coach) Brandon (Rieschick) when I was rounding second and saw him clapping his hands and not yelling at me to get to third.”
A two-run shot from Grady Belt helped give SOS a 3-2 lead after one inning.
Malcolm answered with a six-run second inning highlighted by a two-out grand slam from Maclain Beach that put Malcolm on top 7-3.
“Our guys worked really hard in the offseason,” Malcolm head coach Doug Churchwell said. “It was nice to see all that work in the cage payoff right away.”
The SOS bats came back alive in the bottom of the second when they sent 13 batters to the plate and produced eight runs on six hits.
“That’s quite a team they have,” Malcolm assistant coach Brandon Rieschick said. “They have a bunch of really good players representing at least five different high schools. That’s a lot of firepower.”
After a three up, three down top of the third inning, SOS piled on four more runs to go ahead by eight runs. That was all they would need as the Rebels would run-rule Malcolm.
“We have a tendency to come out on fire and then settle in,” Malcolm starting pitcher Connor Zegar said. “We need to get better at keeping our foot on the gas and staying focused all the way through the game.”
The Malcolm Juniors also took a loss in their season opener as they fell 4-3 to SOS in a game ended by time limit.
The juniors got on the board first when a Gavan Dunse double scored Luke Schmidt in the top of the first.
Brayden Boehle was in command early on as he retired the first six batters he faced. An error in the bottom of the third allowed SOS its first baserunner. The Rebels took the lead as they scored two in the bottom of the third.
Boehle and Dunse each drove in runs in the top of fourth to give the lead back to Malcolm. The lead was short lived as the Rebels tied the game in the bottom frame and then scored on a bases-loaded walk to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth.
Malcolm finished the game with six hits while four Malcolm pitchers held SOS to just three hits. Only one of the four SOS runs was earned.
“We have some things we need to clean up in the field,” Churchwell said. “In close games, an error or two can make a big difference.”
The teams from Malcolm have a busy week planned as they host Wilber Tuesday for a junior-senior doubleheader. Thursday, June 25, the Malcolm seniors will welcome Seward to town. The Fairbury juniors and seniors are planning a trip to Malcolm on Saturday.
With the latest directed health measure announced by Gov. Pete Ricketts, fans who are not members of players’ households are now allowed to attend games.
“Our boys are so glad to be playing games again,” Churchwell said. “It’ll be good to be on the home field in front of our fans. I’m looking forward to a good week.”