Devon Sesler will never forget his first varsity win as a member of the Blue Springs baseball team’s starting rotation.
It came Monday afternoon on the Wildcats’ wind-whipped home field as he struck out nine – including all three batters with the bases loaded in the top of the third inning – to help the Wildcats claim a 4-0 Suburban Big Six win over Lee’s Summit.
“Not bad for a cross country kid,” quipped first-year Blue Springs coach Tim McElligott, whose Wildcats improved to 5-2 overall. “Devon has really come out of nowhere. We knew him as a cross country runner the past three years when he was pitching for our JV team.
“And this year, wow! He has a great curve, guys have trouble hitting all of his pitches, and he's been outstanding in his two starts.”
His first start was a 1-0, eight-inning loss to Staley. Monday's shutout took away much of the sting from his opening loss.
“This is great, just the greatest feeling,” Sesler said. “I felt in total control the whole game. I fought my control a couple of times – especially in the third inning. But I don't get rattled out on the mound or get nervous.
“I threw some good pitches and got out of it.”
He walked two batters in the top of the seventh, which prompted a visit to the mound by McElligott.
“It was his game,” McElligott said. “I never thought about taking him out. I just wanted to talk with him and settle him down a little bit.”
The next Lee’s Summit batter hit a line drive back to Sesler, who started a 1-6-3 double play to end the game.
“It was a nice way to end the game,” Sesler said, “but I wish those runners wouldn't have been on base to begin with.”
Catcher Ryan Williams, the younger brother of former all-state catcher and current Kansas City T-Bones player Bubby Williams, said Sesler needed just one pitch to dominate the Tigers.
“Curve, curve, curve,” Williams said, grinning, when asked what pitch was working for the senior starter. “It was moving – if it was in the strike zone, they didn't have a chance of hitting it.”
While Sesler got most of the attention after the game, Lee's Summit coach Jim Mellody praised the performance of his starter, Noah Arni.
“Noah gives up four unearned runs – all in the second inning – and if we get a big hit or two, we might still be playing,” Mellody said. “We've been in every game we've played this season; we just can't seem to get the big hit.
“Their kid did a great job on the mound, and they made us pay for our mistakes.”
Dillon Jackson and Ross Baker delivered RBI singles for the Wildcats in the four-run second inning with the other runs scoring on Tiger errors.
After the game, cross country coach Frank Gallick praised Sesler.
“He's told me he played baseball, so I thought I better come out and watch him his senior year,” Gallick said. “I have to tell you, I'm impressed. He looked good out there.”