The O’Fallon Hoots started the season 1-4, losing three of those games by a mere one run. Pitching was struggling to hold leads, the defense was committing errors and the offense was not scoring enough runs. Since that point, the Hoots are 10-4 – including a current six game winning streak – and right on the heels of the first-place Alton River Dragons. Once thought to be out of sight, a home playoff game in August is now well within reach. What changed?
In the first five games of the season, the Hoots were allowing 5.4 runs per game. Since that point, that number has dropped to 4.4 runs per game. The offense has also exploded since the 1-4 start, scoring 6.2 runs per game in their last 14 games. Coming into the season, the Hoots were expected to be able to hit the ball well. While it took a week or so to get going, the offense is now in full swing. The offense is currently fourth in the league in runs scored (124), second in hits (184), sixth in doubles (34), fourth in stolen bases (53), second in batting average (.299), second in on-base percentage (.401) and third in slugging percentage (.422).
The Hoots have been led at the plate this season by reigning Slugger of the Week Patrick Clohisy, Noah Fisher, Colin Bergmann, Cade Hohl and Alex Adams. Clohisy leads the Hoots in average (.463), on-base percentage (.558), slugging percentage (.878), home runs (four), stolen bases (nine), and hits (19). Bergmann is tops on the team in RBI (12), while Fisher, Hohl and Adams all have averages north of .330.
With every turnaround of a season, there is bound to be a turn around on the mound. The Hoots have had new additions impress in the last week that have helped make a difference. Geo Canfield, Griffin King, Colling Baumgartner and Anthony Klein all have made the Hoots’ pitching staff one to fear. Klein has been a weapon out of the bullpen, pitching to a 1.86 ERA in 9.2 innings and striking out 11. Baumgartner has made three appearances and two starts this season, totalling 7.2 innings, 11 strikeouts and a 2.35 ERA.
Nick Schmidt, Jack Weber, Matt James and Jack Jones have also all been solid for the Hoots this season. Schmidt is yet to allow an earned run in eight innings pitched and has a 14.86 K/9 rate to lead the team. Weber has a 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings this season while James leads the team with 15 innings pitched. Jones has one save in 12.2 innings this season, pitching to a 2.13 ERA.
It takes a team to turn a season around, and the Hoots have seen every player step put the playoffs within reach. There are still 11 games left in the first half for both the River Dragons and the Hoots. In that span, the two teams will play once at CarShield Field and three times at Alton. Those four games will likely be the deciding factor in which of these teams will host the second half division winner in a one-game playoff this August. If recent trends continue, the Hoots are on their way to hosting that game behind the strength of their pitching staff .
About the O’Fallon Hoots
The O’Fallon Hoots began play in O’Fallon, Missouri in May 2020 after relocating from Hannibal, Missouri following the 2019 season. For tickets, merchandise or any team information, visit ofallonhoots.com.