Senior Legion baseball: A's win state championship
The Blue Springs A’s kept the bats going Saturday en route to the Missouri state senior Legion baseball championship at Liberty Park Stadium-Dey Field.
The A’s scored four runs in the first inning and beat Eureka Post 177 7-2 for the right to advance to regional play this week in Little Rock, Ark.
“I told (my teammates), they put up 28 (runs) in the first game and put up six in the first inning (against Eureka) the last time,” pitcher Alex Duvall said. “I said, ‘Guys if you put up three or four runs, they’re going to fold.”
The A’s opened the tournament Thursday with a 28-0 win over Joplin and beat Eureka 10-6 Friday in the winners bracket final.
The A’s erupted for 45 runs in three tournament games.
“Coming into the tournament, our season batting average so far was .375,” A’s manager Mike Rooney said. “We’ve got six kids hitting over .400, so it’s not a fluke. They’ve been swinging the bat real well all year.”
In all, the A’s had only three RBIs with two runs scoring on errors and two on wild pitches.
“That’s part of being in the game, reading and reacting and knowing what to do,” Rooney said. “These kids have done it all year long.”
Duvall secured the win, allowing two runs — one earned — on nine hits with one walk and three strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings.
“He kept them off balance, made a lot of good pitches,” Rooney said. “We caught some balls for him. It was a good all-around team effort.”
Duvall retired the leadoff batter in each of the first six innings and seven times overall.
“Anytime you can get the first out in an inning or have one out and nobody on base, you can really attack the hitter, let them make mistakes,” Duvall said. “Get the ball where you want and let them get themselves out.”
Donnie Lucas was charged with the loss. He gave up five runs — three earned — on seven hits with five walks and three strikeouts in five innings.
The A’s, who were the road team, scored four first-inning runs on three hits, three walks, one error and one wild pitch.
Rooney said the team likes to score early.
“It always puts the pressure on the opposing team, gives you a little breathing room,” Rooney said.
Wylson Lamb led off the first with a walk. After David Stober grounded out to third, Kyle Reed drew a walk, and Grant Gavin singled home Lamb. On the play, the right fielder attempted to throw out a runner at third, but his throw landed in the Eureka dugout.
Two runs scored on the play.
Corbin Hare and Brandon Bennefield followed with singles, and Hare scored on a wild pitch.
Bennefield had three of the Blue Springs’ 12 hits.
Eureka had a golden opportunity to score a run twice in the bottom of the first.
Adam Schnurbusch was hit by a pitch with one out and stole second. Sean Murley, who went 3 for 5, struck out but reached first on a passed ball by Eureka.
Schnurbusch, who moved to third on the passed ball, failed to score on J.J. Guenther’s groundout to second.
Schnurbusch, then, attempted to steal home, but as he was sliding into home plate, teammate Drew Fair flew out to right to end the inning.
In the third, Bennefield doubled and scored on Jeremy Lufft’s single to center.
In the top of the sixth, Nate Carlton, who went 2 for 4, doubled and Lamb was struck by a pitch. Stober’s bunt single moved both runners up. Carlton scored and Stober reached second on a wild pitch, and Gavin’s sacrifice fly to left put the A’s ahead 7-0.
Eureka scored its first run in the bottom of the sixth. Tyler Jennings singled with one out and scored on an error by the second baseman, who was attempting to turn a double play.
Eureka’s Rudy May, who went 2 for 3, hit a solo homer in the eighth.
Jeff Jinkerson added two hits to Eureka’s 10-hit attack.
The A’s take a 46-7 record into the regional.
“We knew we were good. We knew we had a big chance,” Bennefield said. “We had no clue we could do something like this.”
Note: The Sedalia Post 642 Travelers were one of seven teams to beat the A’s this season. They beat Blue Springs 5-4 in the second game of a doubleheader June 26 in Blue Springs. ... Eureka’s Murley singled off the pitcher in the fifth. His hit ricocheted off Duvall and rolled to the third-base line. ... A’s shortstop Stober made a pair of impressive plays on defense. He ranged far to his right to come up with a hard-hit ball by Jinkerson with one out in the fifth. He planted his feet and threw out the runner at first. In the eighth, he ran all the way to the tarp along the left-field fence in foul territory to record the first out.
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