In a pitcher’s duel between Sacred Heart’s Nik Langston and West Platte’s Logan Moose, Moose got the upper hand and West Platte got the 1-0 win in the sectional on Wednesday at Liberty Park Stadium.
“That’s what you expect in the state playoffs,” said Sacred Heart coach Jaric Reid. “That’s all you’re going to see is everybody’s No. 1 and No. 2 pitcher. It was a really good pitcher’s duel. We knew what we were going to get from Langston. We knew what we were going to get from Moose. We watched him. We knew what he was going to give us, but we just didn’t execute offensively.”
West Platte got the lone run of the game after Jared Meyer doubled to deep center in the sixth.
“(Langston) left that fastball up and out over the plate, 0-1 pitch you don’t want to groove one right there and he did and it cost him,” Reid said. “One pitch that he missed the spot on, it really hurt him, but that’s how it is in the state playoffs.”
Courtesy runner Derek Odil moved to third on a groundout. Sacred Heart was one strike away from getting out of the jam but a wild pitch allowed Odil to score.
West Platte had other chances, but the Gremlins stayed in the game thanks to the defense of freshman second baseman Chance Spangler. West Platte had runners at second and third with one out in the third inning but after Langston struck out Moose, Meyer hit a groundball up the middle. Spangler made a sliding stop and threw to first to end the inning.
“I was watching Langston’s follow-through and saw it,” Spangler said. “I got a good jump on it, knew I just had to keep it in front and if I could, I could make the play.”
Spangler also twice retired Moose on line drives, once in the first inning and once to lead off the sixth on a ball that seemed headed to the outfield.
“We know what kind of range he’s got,” Reid said. “We do plays like that all the time in out in-and-out in practice. He really came up huge for us and really helped us stay in the ballgame.”
The Gremlins did not have many chances as Moose faced two hitters over the minimum and struck out 10 in the game.
“He started pitching us backwards in the middle innings, starting the middle of our order off with a breaking ball instead of a fastball,” Reid said. “That’s nothing new to us. Lane Soendker did the same to us in the Windsor game (in the district final). We just weren’t willing to go the other way with the fastball early on and when you see a guy that’s got a good breaking ball you’ve got to jump on that fastball. You can’t wait for it to be right down the middle.”
Sacred Heart twice had runners in scoring position. Caleb Tanguay was hit by a pitch with two out in the first and stole second, but a groundout ended the inning. In the fifth inning, Clint Spangler led off with a double to the wall in right field but was stranded on third.
“We didn’t execute there when we had a leadoff double and didn’t get the bunt down,” Reid said. “If we get that guy to third base with one out, we probably score a run there.”
Moose worked 1-2-3 innings in the second, third, sixth and seventh and erased a one-out single when Meyer threw Tanguay out trying to steal in the fourth.
“He threw some pretty good gas in there,” Langston said. “He’d mix in that curveball and get us off balance but I think we swung the bats pretty good, just hit it right at them.”
Langston struck out four in the game and allowed one walk and five hits.
“The curveball felt really good,” he said. “Fastball was working pretty well too, when I would locate it.”
He walked Meyer with two out in the first, but promptly struck out clean-up hitter Dylan Guthrie to end the inning. West Platte went down 1-2-3 in the second and Spangler’s defensive gem got Langston out of the third.
In the fourth, Guthrie bunted his way on to lead off the inning but attempted to steal second before Langston got set and was picked off. Langston then struck out the next two batters. He then worked his way around a one-out single in the fifth.
“He gave us a game,” Chance Spangler said. “We just didn’t give him the run support, but he pitched a great game.”
Sacred Heart finished the season 11-6. It also marked the end of a remarkable school year for Chance Spangler, Mason Kelchner and Garrett Strange, who were part of district championship teams in soccer, basketball and baseball.
“It’s been great,” Spangler said. “It’s been a great freshman year. I just hope I can follow up on it the next couple of years and maybe go farther than that. I think we can.”