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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaThe California Pintos baseball team suffered its first loss of the season March 29, falling to Russellville 17-8.

RUSSELLVILLE — The California Pintos baseball team (5-1) suffered its first loss of the season March 29, falling to the Russellville Indians (4-1) in a high-scoring 17-8 affair.

Pintos head coach Steven Stock said, despite the loss, this game can help the team in a couple of different ways.

“This type of game will help our team, as we learned that we can get behind and still keep fighting,” Stock said. “It also makes us realize that we have a long way to go in the process of getting better as we progress throughout the season.”

California took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, which Russellville answered promptly with a six-run bottom of the second inning to take a 6-1 lead.

The scoring started for the Indians thanks to a three-run home run by Landen Waggoner to make it a 3-1 game with one out in the inning. Russellville added three more runs in the inning.

In the top of the third inning, California had a chance to cut into the lead with the bases loaded and two outs, but the Indians were able to get out of the jam without giving up a run.

Russellville added to its lead in the bottom of the third inning; after a lead-off walk, Isaiah Kauffman scored a run on a base hit to make it 7-1. Three batters later, Jesse Daniel brought in another run on a base hit to make it 8-1. Charlie Miller added one more run to Russellville’s lead after another base hit to make it a 9-1 game.

The Pintos answered back with a big inning of their own in the top of the fourth inning. After a quick first out, back-to-back hits by Kaden Bax and Calen Kruger gave California two runners on base. Tagen Higgins followed that up by forcing a walk to load the bases, and a hit by Lucas Ash scored two runs to make it 9-3. A Russellville error led to the bases being loaded again, and the Pintos added another run thanks to a hit by Ethan Bloch to make it 9-4. The Pintos proceeded to add three more runs to make it 9-7. After Martin Kilmer was hit by a pitch, Kaden Bax forced a walk that scored yet another run to cut the lead down to one at 9-8, but the Indians were finally able to get out of the inning with their lead still intact.

Stock said the team was able to put together good at-bats and get some key hits with runners on base.

“It says that our guys kept fighting when things were not going well for us,” Stock said.

Russellville added some insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Miller scored two more runs on a base hit to make it 11-8. The Indians added another pair of runs to make it 13-8 at the end of the inning.

Russellville extended its lead further in the bottom of the sixth inning, as the Indians scored four more runs to make it a 17-8 game. The Indians were able to hold the Pintos to zero runs in the final inning to secure the victory.

Walks were a problem for both teams’ pitchers, as California walked 12 Russellville batters and the Indians walked eight Pintos batters during the game.

Stock said the team had a rough day on the mound; in practice, they’ll talk with the pitchers about how to deal with tough days like that.

“We simply had a rough day on the mound,” Stock said. “Our pitchers seemed to not be able to feel comfortable with the footing on the mound, and that led to not being able to get into any type of rhythm throwing. We will talk briefly about how to best handle the tough day on the mound, then take what we can from it to improve and move on from it.”

California scored its eight runs on 10 hits and had one error in the game, while Russellville scored its 17 runs on 12 hits and had four errors in the game. Kaden Bax, Lucas Ash and Logan Bax led the Pintos with two hits each. Ash led the team with two RBIs; Kaden Bax, Tagen Higgins, Ethan Bloch, Hunter Berendzen and Logan Bax all had one RBI.

For Russellville, Isaiah Kauffman and Charlie Miller led the team with three hits each. Jesse Daniel and Logan Cinotto added two hits each. Miller led the team with four RBIs, Landen Waggoner added three RBIs, and Cinotto and Jake Schlute both added two RBIs each.

The Pintos’ next game is at 5 p.m. April 1 at South Callaway. The Indians’ next game is at 5 p.m. April 6 at Eldon.

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