For more than a week, the Blue Springs South baseball team had been looking for the big hit.
“Well, it wasn’t a big hit,” South coach Ben Baier joked after the Jaguars claimed a 4-3 Suburban Big Six win over visiting Liberty Monday afternoon, “but at least we got a big balk.”
With the score tied at 3-all in the bottom of the sixth inning, Liberty starter Tyler Burrow was called for a balk, which sent pinch runner Jake Lamb home with the eventual winning run.
“It’s funny, we get seven hits today – the fewest we’ve had in our last five games – yet it’s the only game we’ve won among those five. I kept telling the guys to relax, I like how we’re playing, we’re working hard, we just needed something good to happen. Maybe the balk is what we needed.”
The win ends a four-game Jaguar losing streak and helps South improve to 13-7 and 4-3 in league play.
South took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a 375-foot home run by shortstop Colton Pogue. But the Blue Jays came back to take a 2-1 lead when Ryan Fisher drove home a run with a bases-loaded bunt and Brock Dorothy followed with an RBI infield out off starter Caleb Humphreys.
South came back strong, taking a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth when Jacob Clark drove home a run with a line drive single up the middle and Pogue lifted a sacrifice fly.
But Liberty knotted the score at 3-all in the top of the sixth when Fisher doubled, went to third on a Pogue error and scored on Zach Hoeflicker’s RBI single.
“If you want a ball hit to anyone on the team, you want it hit to Pogue – he is an all-state caliber player and kid,” Baier said. “He was mad at himself after that error and when he came to the dugout I told him, ‘Big-time players let something like that go – average players let it eat them up. Which one are you?’
“He’s a big-timer. I’m just so proud of the guys for coming back and finding a way to win and get that (losing streak) monkey off our back.”
When asked about his muffed infield pop fly, Pogue just shook his head.
“I made a mistake,” Pogue said. “When I came to the dugout, Coach and all the guys came over and gave me support, and that made me feel good. I’m not going to make many errors, and when I do, I’m going to be accountable.
“But no one had a bigger smile when we won the game than me. I didn’t want to contribute to another loss.”
Patrick Lemberger singled in the bottom of the sixth. He was replaced by Lamb, who went to second on an errant pickoff attempt by Burrow.
Cale Benson then singled Lamb to third, and he scored on a balk – that everyone in the stadium seemed to call out in unison.
“It was a balk,” Baier said. “He’d done it a couple of times earlier in the game. We were looking for it.”
Side-arming Conner Davis, who relieved Humphreys with one out in the sixth, pitched out of a jam in the top of the seventh to get the win.
Liberty’s Ryan Speiser walked, was sacrificed to second and went to third on a ground out to second baseman Clark.
With Speiser on third, Davis jumped high off the mound to spear a line drive off the bat of Fisher to end the game.
“Conner’s the man,” Pogue said. “He has that side-arm delivery and comes from all sorts of different angles. He’s tough to hit against.”
Davis said another sport played a big role in his game-ending defensive gem.
“I used to play basketball, so I guess I can still jump,” he said. “It was a good win. Caleb pitched a great game, the guys played good defense and found a way to win. Now, we just have to keep winning.”