The weekend did not go as hoped for the Lee’s Summit baseball team.
But there were still plenty of smiles on the faces of Tiger players as they posed for photographs after falling to Vianney 9-0 on Saturday in the third-place game of the Missouri Class 5 state baseball tournament at CarShield Park.
“We did not play the kind of baseball we are capable of playing,” said Lee’s Summit senior Xavian Hill, who will play football and possibly baseball at Truman State University. “But that’s baseball, and this is still going to be a few days I am going to remember for the rest of my life.”
The third-place game was almost a carbon copy of the Tigers’ semifinals game Friday.. They stayed close for the first half of the game but then had one bad inning.
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On Saturday, Lee’s Summit starting pitcher Dalton Hill cruised through the first three innings, giving up just two hits and a walk. He walked Luke Mann at the start off the fourth and then gave up back-to-back doubles to Anthony Altobella and Jack Stanfield. Ben Lock came in to pitch for Lee’s Summit and had trouble with his control, walking three Griffin batters. Four Vianney hitters walked in the inning overall and three scored.
Vianney had a 5-0 lead, and that was all that junior Noah Niznik would need. The southpaw retired the first eight Tiger batters before Michael Edgar reached on a hit, one of two he had for the game.
The best scoring chance for Lee’s Summit came in the fifth inning when Dalen Blair singled with two outs and Edgar followed with a long double. But Niznik was able to retire Grant Baird to end the threat.
The Griffins would add four runs in the sixth in putting the game away.
Niznik pitched into the sixth inning. Sean Regan finished the game, retiring the last four Tiger hitters.
“It was a fun weekend and unforgettable experience,” said Blair, who will continue his baseball career at Briarcliff College in Iowa in the fall. “We played a good three or four innings in both games, but then it got away from us. It was a fun season, and this group is special.”
Lee’s Summit finished the season with a 23-11 record.
“These guys have no reason to hang their heads,” Lee’s Summit coach Jim Mellody said. “We competed with the best teams in the state, and a couple of innings got away from us. We faced some of the best pitchers in the state, and they showed why they are the best. It was fun all year, and this was a great group of seniors.”
Vianney finished the season with a 32-7 record.
▪ Jefferson City captured its first state title since 1989 in a crazy Class 5 championship game. Fort Zumwalt West, which was playing in its first state semifinals, scored a run in the second inning. That would hold up despite numerous scoring chances for both teams until Jefferson City’s Payton Bodenstab delivered an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
Fort Zumwalt West did not score in the top of the eighth despite having the bases loaded and no outs. Jefferson City loaded the bases on two walks and a single in the bottom of the eighth. The game and the season ended on a walk-off hit batsman.
Jefferson City, the top-ranked team in the state, finished 31-2. The win was the 300th in the career for Jefferson City coach Brian Ash.
The Fort Zumwalt Jaguars, who entered the postseason with an 18-14 record and were seeded fifth in their district, came within an out of the title and finished at 24-15.