O'FALLON, Mo. - Columbia Rock Bridge played small ball and got big results as the Bruins blanked Blue Springs South 2-0 Thursday afternoon at T.R. Hughes Stadium to advance to the Class 5 championship game at 1 p.m. today.
The Jaguars will play in the third-place game at 10:30 a.m.
South put runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the first inning, but could not score a run as Rockbridge starter Logan Twehous struck out the next two Jaguars to foreshadow a brilliant performance in which he allowed just three hits and struck out seven.
The Bruins didn't fare much better against South starter Reece Eddins as they scored on a suicide sacrifice bunt and an infield single.
Matt Widhalm opened the fourth inning with a walk and went to third on Cole Evans' single.
Michael Buxton then laid down a perfect bunt as Widhalm came across the plate to score the first run of the game.
Leadoff man Conner Brumfeld, who had three hits in the game, doubled in the fifth and scored on Kyle Teter's high-chopping infield single to account for the final run of the game.
"We knew they were going to bunt when they scored that first run," South coach Ben Baier said. "He'd had trouble hitting the curve, and we threw a curve. If we throw a high fastball, who knows. It's like I told the kids, they executed, they played a great game, their kid threw a great game – we don't have a thing to hang our heads about."
Eddins singled in the first, Nic Mertes singled in the third and Austin Simms, today’s starting pitcher, singled in the seventh. But none of those baserunners reached second base.
"They played small ball," Baier said, "and we knew they were going to play small ball with Reece on the mound. It's an old cliche, but the better team won. But I couldn't be any prouder of this team. They are a great group of kids and we have to find a way to regroup and come out tomorrow and find a way to win a game."
Baier said when he was a senior at Raymore-Peculiar High School, he played in a third-place game.
""Let's be honest, it sucks," Baier said. "I played in the game. You come to state to win a championship, not a third-place game. But I know the guys are going to go out and give it everything they have."
Simms backed that statement.
"It's the last time I am ever going to play with a group of guys I love," Simms said. "You better believe I'm going to give it everything I have, and so are my teammates. I love these guys. We wanted to win a championship and it didn't happen. Now, we have to go all out tomorrow and make sure we win at least one game down here."
Eddins said he expected a pitchers' duel, and that's exactly what happened.
"Their kid did a great job, and I did everything I could to keep us in the game," said Eddins, who allowed seven hits and struck out four. "They really executed well on the sacrifice squeeze. Their guy was just about across homeplate before I could get to the ball.
"Then, they get that infield single for their second run. It happens. We played a good game. They just played a little bit better one."
Colton Pogue gave the South faithful a brief moment of optimism in the bottom of the sixth when he hit a slicing line drive down the right-field line. But Taten Lyngstad, who had just been put in the game for defensive reasons, chased the ball down and made a backhanded catch.
Jacob Clark put left fielder Kyle Teter up against the wall with a long fly ball out in the bottom of the seventh.
"You can't hit a ball much harder than Jake hit that one, and we thought Colton's was going to be in for a hit," Baier said. "It was just one of those days."
Battling his emotions, he added, "There are 97 teams in Class 5 that wish they were down here, and I wouldn't want to be with any group but these guys. I love this team."