It was far from a perfect game for the Pembroke Hill baseball team Friday in the Missouri Class 4 semifinals.
But it was good enough, and the Raiders will play for a state championship Saturday morning.
The Raiders committed six errors. They lost three runners on the bases and one at the plate. Their pitchers walked five batters and four of them scored.
But somehow they still won the game, 7-5 over Logan-Rogersville at T.R. Hughes Ball Park. They will play three-time defending state champion Westminster Christian, which beat St. Mary’s 8-2.
“I think it says a lot about this team that we did not play well yet still managed to find a way to win a game at this stage of the season,” said first-year Raider coach Mike Bahun, whose team is playing the postseason without star Tyler LaPlante, who injured his ankle right before districts. “This is the first experience in this kind of atmosphere for these guys and hopefully we worked around a lot of the jitters.”
Logan-Rogersville, which finished third in last year’s Class 4 Tournament, scored a run without a hit and three Raider errors in the second inning to take an early lead.
Pembroke Hill bounced right back to score four in the top of the third inning. Pitcher Joe Thomas, who did not allow a hit until two outs in the fourth inning, had the key hit, a two-out, two-run double.
The Raiders added two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth but the Wildcats battled back and scored twice in the sixth to cut the deficit to 7-5 on a two-out single by Bailey Jenkins after Thomas had walked the bases loaded. Thomas, who pitched around mistakes all game, struck out Tyler Critton to end the sixth with the tying runs on base.
Lefty Sean Reardon came in to start the seventh. He promptly fell behind Jordan Fitzpatrick 3-0. But he was masterful after that, striking out the side against the Wildcats’ three, four and five hitters.
“I was a little nervous at the start, as I think the whole team was during the game,” Reardon said. “But I liked the fact that the first two hitters I faced were left-handed. They wanted to hit, and I wanted to pitch. I just went after them with fastballs. These are my last high school games and I wanted to play for the state championship.”
Reardon will get the ball for the 10:30 a.m. start Saturday (an adjusted time because of predicted bad weather Saturday afternoon).
“I should be fine,” Reardon said of the start. “I finished the Marshall game in sectionals and then pitched against Smithville in the quarterfinals.”
That resulted in a 3-0 complete-game victory.
“We will have to see what happens in this game (Westminster and St. Mary’s) but we talked since our first meeting of the year about wanting to have the chance to play them (Westminster Christian),” Bahun said.
They could get that chance and an opportunity to win the first state title for Pembroke Hill since Pembroke Country Day won back-to-back championships in 1973-74.
Blue Springs South takes third in Class 5
Cale Benson closed out his high school baseball career in style.
The Blue Springs South designated hitter reached base all four times and had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Jaguars defeated Vianney, 2-1 in the third-place game of the Missouri Class 5 baseball tournament at T.R. Hughes Ball Park.
“We had a sour taste after last night’s game,” said Benson, who will play baseball next year at Coffeyville Community College. “I think that taste is out of our mouth now. The drive home is going to be a lot happier.
“We feel that we accomplished something this year, being the first team from Blue Springs South to make it this far. Coach (Ben Baier) always brought up the 2008 team to us when he wanted to make a point about a successful team. He said from now on he will talk about the 2014 team. We have 10 seniors on this team, and they are my best friends. It is not going to be the same from now on. This was a special group of guys.”
Things didn’t start well for the Jaguars on Friday as starting pitcher Austin Simms struck out leadoff batter Brendan Madden on three pitches, but Madden reached when the ball got past catcher Nick Mertes. Madden eventually scored on a single by Iowa recruit Nick Allgeyer and a sacrifice fly by Keanen Davila.
That would prove to be the only Griffin run as they left nine runners on base in the first five innings. Simms constantly got the key out and finished 7 2/3 innings, allowing only the one unearned run.
Blue Springs South, which had not scored a run in its first 11 innings of the final four, manufactured a run in the fifth. Benson opened the inning with a double. He moved to third on a single by Jake Clark. Clark induced a pickoff attempt from Allgeyer as Benson came home.
“That first and third play was one we worked on all year, but this was the first time we used it,” Baier said.
The score remained tied until the Jaguar ninth as Reece Eddins, Patrick Lemberger and Benson strung together hits to lead off the inning.
“I was going up ready to bunt with runners on first and second and no out,” Benson said. “But coach showed a lot of trust in me. I fell behind 0-2 and just wanted to make sure I got a bat on the ball.”
He did on a pitch that was high and outside that he took the opposite way for the game-winner.
“My dad (David) has always coached me and harped on me not to swing at that pitch,” Benson said. “But it looked so fat.”
That hit enabled the Jaguars to finish third at state and 24-12 overall. Rock Bridge defeated Francis Howell 9-6 for the Class 5 championship.
“In the future I am not going to remember anything about this game or the one yesterday,” Baier said. “I am going to remember the time I had with these guys, be it in practice or the offseason. These are the kinds of kids who you want to be successful.”