The Sedalia Post 642 Travelers were looking for a hero Saturday in the third round of the Sedalia-Warrensburg senior Legion baseball tournament.
Manager Mark Carey found eight of them in the sixth inning when the Travelers scored seven runs to beat Fulton Post 210 8-2 to advance to the championship game at Liberty Park Stadium-Dey Field.
“You’re playing an outstanding Fulton team with multiple college kids that come back and play for them,” Carey said of his speech to his players. “It’s tied right now in the bottom of the sixth inning. I said, ‘You guys have a chance to do something you’re not supposed to do and beat an amazing team. Who wants to do it?’ And everybody kind of stepped up to the plate. They all approached me and said, ‘I want to be the guy to do it.’ ”
The biggest hero of the day was Austin Bullerd, who mixed his pitches well for seven innings to earn the win.
The right-handed sidewinder allowed two runs on eight hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
“I was pretty much trying to mix up my pitches a lot,” Bullerd said. “Throw my fastball for a strike to begin with and then go off speed.”
Bullerd credited his defense for the victory.
“Wouldn’t have won it without them,” Bullerd said.
Fifteen Fulton outs were recorded on fly balls to the outfield or pop-ups on the infield.
For example, left fielder Dalton Christian made a running catch at the fence before running into it for the second out of the sixth inning.
“We know that Bully throws that pancake slider in there and a lot of guys were late and hit the ball in the air a lot,” Carey said.
“We knew with the wind conditions the way they were, we had to be focused with balls in the air,” Carey said. “Dalton Christian made that catch. That saves us the game with the score tied at 1.”
First baseman Cody Kozak made a pair of catches in foul territory for key outs. He caught a pop-up to end the fourth inning, and he went to the edge of the dugout to record the second out of the seventh.
With the scored tied at 1, the Travelers sent 12 batters to the plate in the sixth. They had six hits in the inning, Fulton pitchers walked two batters and hit another, and Post 210 committed one error.
Darion Lawrence, who went 2 for 3, opened the inning with a single, and Caleb Tanguay followed with a double.
Ian Dotson, who finished 2 for 4, singled home Tanguay, and Zach Bishop hit into a fielder’s choice that forced out Dotson at second, but Tanguay scored on the play.
Christian, who went 2 for 3, singled, and Kozak was hit by a pitch to load the bases. A.J. Paul hit a two-run single to right-center, ending starter Justin Murphy’s afternoon.
Murphy gave up seven runs on nine hits with no walks and two strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings.
Hunter Leeper relieved and struck out Henry Tietz, but Luke Archibeque singled, and Paul scored on a wild pitch.
Lawrence drew a walk, but Leeper threw wildly to first on a pick-off attempt, allowing Archibeque to score.
“The approaches at the plate were great,” Carey said. “Everybody was on the same page. Runners on first and second, we don’t need a ground ball at that time. We’re still looking for a base hit. That’s the type of approaches and swings they had, and ultimately succeeded at getting those two-out, one-out base hits.”
The big inning took a lot of weight off Bullerd’s shoulders.
“I kept on telling them to get just one more run, and we got this,” Bullerd said.
Fulton took a 1-0 lead in the first. Smith Kemper singled with one out and scored on Leeper’s single to left-center.
The Travelers tied the game in the fourth. Dotson doubled with one out, and Christian doubled him home two batters later.
Fulton scored its final run in the seventh on a run-scoring single by Gus Goodnight.
Goodnight and Jake Matthews led Fulton with two hits apiece.