As Blue Springs South pitcher Austin Simms walked off the mound after six innings of work in Thursday’s Missouri Class 5 sectional against Staley, his coach decided the senior’s afternoon was done. Maybe.
Over the course of a dugout conversation, Simms instead talked his way into one more inning. Three outs later, he finished what he started — and what he failed to finish last season.
He fired a complete game in a 7-2 victory, sending Blue Springs South to the Class 5 state baseball tournament for the first time in school history. The Jaguars, 23-11, will play Rock Bridge at 4 p.m. Friday at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O’Fallon, Mo.
“I tried to take the ball from him,” Jaguars coach Ben Baier said. “He didn’t want any part of that. He wanted to end it. He’s a senior who’s earned that opportunity.”
It was an especially meaningful performance for Simms, who suffered the loss against Staley in the same round last season. That dropped Blue Springs South to 0-3 in sectional games over the program’s history.
The first victory came Thursday.
Simms struggled out of the gate — three of the first six Staley hitters singled, producing a first-inning run — but he found his groove over the middle innings. He struck out six and worked around four errors.
“When I heard I was getting the ball, I immediately thought of last year’s game,” Simms said. “Things didn’t go our way in that game. I thought this year would be different.”
Simms out-dueled a trio of Staley pitchers, including starter Jared Lloyd, though none of the three were helped by the defense.
The Falcons, 28-6, made five errors, leading to seven unearned runs. A key catcher’s interference call in the bottom of the third opened the door for a big inning for the Jaguars, who scored four runs with two outs in the frame. They added three more runs in the fourth, two of them with two outs.
Blue Springs South seniors Colton Pogue and Patrick Lemberger collected two hits apiece as part of the Jaguars’ nine-hit attack. All nine hits were singles. Reece Eddins reached base three times and scored twice.
The Jaguars, 23-11, will take a six-game winning streak into Friday’s semifinal matchup with Rock Bridge. They split two meetings with the Bruins this season.
“We always talk about leaving a legacy — that’s our goal,” Pogue said. “We don’t want to stop here. We want our legacy to be state champions.”
To reach Sam McDowell, send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/SamMcDowell11.