Fans who attended the Blue Springs South’s home game against Rockhurst Monday got twice the bang for their buck.
They witnessed two games for the price of one – a baseball game and a cat-and-mouse contest where neither coach gave a thing away to his opponent.
“I know what Ben Baier's doing,” a grinning Rockhurst coach Jim DeGraw said after his Hawklets touched four Jaguars pitchers for nine hits and eight runs in an 8-5 non-conference win. “He's not going to throw No. 1 or 2 against us and he's going to shake things up if we see them in postseason play – and I think there's a good chance that could happen.
“He's got a great team, and they were a hit or two away from breaking this one open. We got some big hits, when we needed them, and our kids did a nice job on the mound.”
The Jaguars and Hawklets matched up in a Class 5 sectional matchup last year with Reece Eddins claiming a 2-1 win.
“I think we might see the Eddins kid again in the playoffs, if we play each other,” DeGraw said after his team improved to 15-5, “because we knew we weren't going to see him today.”
Caleb Humphreys started the game on short rest and Baier told the senior to give him “a couple of innings.” Humphreys allowed two unearned runs in a sloppy first inning that saw the Jaguars make two errors, and an earned run in the third.
“We came into the game with a plan, and we followed it,” Baier said. “We wanted to get a couple of innings from Caleb, and then we used the other guys (Colton Larkins, Andrew Olson and Conner Davis).
“You can't really fault anyone for this loss. Jim can go into this game and do whatever it takes to win because they don't play in a conference. We have a conference game Wednesday, here against Lee's Summit, and then we go to Raymore-Peculiar,” Baier added. “Everyone wants to beat Rockhurst, but it's a no-win situation for us because if we throw one of our top two guys, then everyone wants to know why we didn't throw them in the conference games. Don't get me wrong – we came into this game wanting to win. And if we could have gotten a big hit or two with the bases loaded we could have won.
“But their kid did a nice job on the mound, and they got the big hit when they really needed it.”
He was talking about a three-run bomb off the bat of Sam Goodwin in the top of the fifth inning that extended a 4-3 Rockhurst lead to 7-3.
“With the wind blowing like it was,” DeGraw said, “you know one could go out of the park if it got high enough. Sam got all of that pitch and came through with one of the biggest hits of the game.”
South (15-7) scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning on Nic Mertes' walk with the bases loaded and a two-run single by Jacob Clark.
Mertes added an RBI single in the sixth and Braden Younkin had an RBI single in the seventh.
Brooks Hallock relieved winning starter J.T. Watts with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh and coaxed a game-ending double play ball off the bat of pinch hitter Andrew Tritsch.