COLE CAMP — Archie scored a run in the fifth and another in the sixth to beat Cole Camp 4-3 in a Class 2 baseball sectional Tuesday, ending the Bluebirds’ season at 15-8.
“We weren’t taking advantage of enough opportunities,” said Cole Camp coach Todd Rusk. “I’m disappointed. We did things that we don’t normally do against a good team. We just didn’t take advantage of opportunities. We had bases loaded once and didn’t do it. I think we’re the best team in the state at doing that. We didn’t take good at-bats and we didn’t play good defense.”
The Bluebirds had runners on second and third with two outs in the third before Archie pitcher Boston Wilkerson got out of the jam with a strikeout.
Cole Camp scored all three of its runs in the fifth inning and loaded the bases with a chance to put more runs on the board but another strikeout ended that inning.
Wilkerson finished the game with nine strikeouts, eight of them in the fifth and sixth innings.
“We didn’t pick it up early enough out of his hand and it was fooling us,” Rusk said. “We knew he was going to go to it later in the game. That’s definitely his out pitch in the last three innings, and we kept trying to get the guys to understand that, especially a ball low in the dirt. It was frustrating for us. The kid’s a good pitcher. He’s not an overpowering guys, but he makes his pitches.”
Bluebirds starter Austin Weinberg needed 44 pitches to get through the first two innings and allowed a pair of runs in the second but pitched effectively after that.
“He just finds a groove a little later than the first and second inning,” Rusk said. “He struggles early and he finally settles in. It’s nothing we do or nothing he does, it’s just one of those things; he tells himself he’s got to settle in and throw good strikes.”
Archie put the first two hitters on in the second inning, and Jacob Gordon scored on a fielder’s choice groundball by Kody Bray. Collin Lewis followed that with a single to bring home Ty Humbird.
Weinberg then stranded an Archie runner at third to end the third inning and worked a one-two-three fourth before allowing a run in the fifth.
With runners at second and third, Lewis attempted to steal home but was out in a rundown. Dickerson advanced behind him and scored on a throwing error.
Archie scored the final run in the bottom of the sixth when Humbird drew a leadoff walk, went to second on a groundout, narrowly survived a pick-off attempt, and went to third on a sacrifice bunt. Bray drove him in with a two-out infield single up the middle to make it 4-3.
It was the bottom three players in the Cole Camp batting order that scored in the game. No. 7 hitter Zachary Fox started the fifth inning rally when he reached on a dropped third strike. Bradley Martin walked and Josh Tuttle bunted his way on to load the bases.
“They were putting balls in play,” Rusk said. “A nice sacrifice bunt with guys on first and second by Tuttle, and he ends up on base and ends up scoring a run for us, just moving the baseball.”
Fox scored on an infield single by Gunner Williams. Connor Balke followed with a flyball to right that the Archie right fielder couldn’t handle, bringing home Martin. Tuttle scored from third on a bad pick-off attempt to put Cole Camp ahead 3-2.
Wilkerson struck out the next two batters, and after a walk to Codi Eckhoff once again loaded the bases, got another strikeout to end the threat.
Wilkerson struck out all four batters he saw in the sixth with Tuttle reaching on a dropped third strike. Wilkerson worked a one-two-three seventh to end the game.
The Bluebirds started the game by going down in order with Wilkerson needing eight pitches. Eckhoff reached with one out in the second but a double play ended that inning.
In the third, the Bluebirds had runners on second and third after Tuttle drew a two-out walk and Williams reached on an error, but a strikeout ended that threat. Eckhoff singled in the fourth but was left on base by a flyball to end the inning.
Weinberg struck out nine in the losing effort, while walking four. He allowed six hits and one earned run.
For eight seniors, it was their final game in a Cole Camp uniform.
“They are going to be missed,” Rusk said. “Like we did last week in the district championship game, we just jumped on their shoulders. We weren’t going to lose that title. We just couldn’t get anything done (against Archie). I told them I appreciate the years they gave me. A couple of those guys were multiple year starters for me. It’s hard to replace guys.
“Early in the year we were bad, I mean real bad, and we found a groove late and ran off a 10-2 record late in the year and won a district championship, and it all has to do with those guys. You can’t say enough thank yous.”
Archie will face the winner of the Sacred Heart-West Platte game in the state quarterfinal on Thursday at Archie.