The Blue Springs South baseball team was not shut out in its first 25 games of the 2014 season.
But the Jaguars have been shut out three times in their past 10 games, twice by Columbia Rock Bridge. The latest came Thursday in the Missouri Class 5 semifinals at T.R. Hughes Stadium.
Blue Springs South, making its first appearance in the final four, was limited to just three hits in falling to the Bruins 2-0. The Jags will play the loser of the other Class 5 semifinal between defending state champion Francis Howell and Vianney in the third place game Friday at 10:30 a.m.
“He put the ball in the right spots and kept the hitters off balance,” Blue Springs South pitcher Reece Eddins said of Rock Bridge hurler Logan Twehous.
The biggest threat by the Jaguars came in the first inning. Braden Younkins reached on an error by Rock Bridge shortstop Curtis Holliday on Twehous’ first pitch of the game. Younkins moved to third on a hit by Eddins, who stole second, giving the Jaguars a pair of runners in scoring position with just one out.
With Twehous looking like he was already on the ropes, Rock Bridge sent a pitcher to the bullpen. But Twehous got out of the inning by striking out Patrick Lemberger and Cale Benson.
“I think it would have been a different game if we had scored those runs in the first inning,” Eddins said. “In the postseason when we score runs, it seems to snowball.”
It would not happen Thursday though, as the Jaguars were limited to just two hits after the first inning. They had a pair of runners on base in the third inning but had only two runners after that.
“We hit a few balls hard,” Jaguar coach Ben Baier said. “Colton (Pogue) hit a shot to open the sixth and their kid made a good catch. Sometimes the ball just finds you.”
Eddins turned in a good performance, too, in going the distance. The Bruins had seven hits but a handful of them were of the infield variety.
“Reece did what we expected him to do,” Baier said. “He certainly pitched well enough to win”
Rock Bridge broke the scoreless tie with an unearned run in the fourth. Matt Widhalm reached on a throwing error by Pogue to open the inning. He moved to second on a sacrifice by Hayden Johnson (one of four sacrifice bunts executed by Rock Bridge in the game). Cole Evans followed with an infield single, and Widhalm scored on a perfectly executed squeeze off the bat of Michael Buxton.
“We knew that the squeeze was coming,” Baier said. “We had the sign. Reece threw him a good curve, which he had struggled with in his other at-bat but he did a good job of getting the ball down.”
Rock Bridge added another run in the fifth on a double by Connor Brumfield, his third hit of the game, another sacrifice and another infield hit by Kyle Teter.
“I did the best I could to give the team a chance to win,” said Eddins, who walked just two and struck out five in going the distance. “They just put the ball in the right spot. Every run in a game like this counts, and they did a good job of executing.”
Baier spoke from experience when trying to prepare his team for Friday’s third-place game.
“I played in one of these when I was in high school and it (stinks),” said Baier, whose Raymore-Peculiar team lost to St. Charles 7-6 in that third-place game in 1993. “There are 97 teams in Class 5 and getting here was a great accomplishment, although they were not happy just being here. They had another purpose. It stings and I feel much worse for them than for myself. I told them they have one more shot tomorrow, and I expect them to compete and have fun as they have done all year.”
Pembroke Hill will play its Class 4 semifinal game Friday at 4 p.m. The Raiders will play Logan-Rogersville, which finished third last year. Westminster Christian Academy, which has won three state titles in a row (two in Class 3 and last year in Class 4) will meet St. Mary’s in the other Class 4 semifinal. The Class 4 championship game will be played Saturday at 1 p.m. The third-place game is scheduled for Saturday at 10:30 a.m.