All game long, Lee’s Summit West floundered with runners on base, and the sixth inning looked to be more of the same.
Then the Titans’ Cole Dunham flipped the script.
Dunham’s two-out infield single down the third-base line, combined with a throwing error, brought home two runs and gave Lee’s Summit West a 3-2 victory over Staley in a Missouri Class 5 baseball quarterfinal Friday at Central Missouri’s Crane Stadium.
LS West, 23-10, trailed 2-1 going into the sixth inning when back-to-back singles from John McClain and Harrison Schnurbusch and an error put runners on first and third with nobody out. A rundown following a botched squeeze play erased McClain at third. After a single by Dusty Stroup, a popup behind the plate resulted in the second out but got Stroup to second.
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Dunham then lashed a ball toward third, and Staley’s third baseman fielded it and unleashed a throw that sailed high over first base, allowing Schnurbusch and Stroup to score.
“I was just thinking put the ball in play and good things will happen,” said Dunham, a senior right fielder. “And they did.”
Even with all the problems moving runners, LS West coach Jay Meyer had no doubt Dunham would come through. He already had produced two game-winning hits this season.
“I knew Cole was too fast,” Meyer said. “I knew he wasn’t going to throw him out, so I knew we were going to tie it up. The throw pulled (Staley’s first baseman) off the bag and we scratched another run across.”
LS West managed only one hit off Staley starting pitcher Matthew Russell until the Titans took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on a leadoff walk by McClain and a triple by Schnurbusch, who was thrown out at home trying to score.
Stroup, the Titans’ starting pitcher, was equally effective. He held Staley to two hits over the first five innings.
The Falcons, 31-5, finally got to Stroup in the top of the sixth with two runs on four hits, including an RBI triple by Jackson Duffy that followed by a run-scoring single from Sean Cooley.
Stroup got back on track after regaining the lead in the bottom of the sixth, and he retired the Falcons in order in the sevnth.
LS West will be making its second appearance in the state tournament and first since 2006, the year before Meyer became head coach.
“I’ve been waiting 20 years for this,” Meyer said. “I’m just so proud of them.”