There is a definite madness to Ben Baier’s method of scheduling games for his Class 5 state-bound Jaguar baseball team.
The Blue Springs South coach raised a few eyebrows when he put together a non-conference schedule that had his team traveling to a tournament in Sedalia, Mo., and another in St. Louis.
Earlier this season he explained, “My teams will never have the 27-2 or 27-3 records because our non-conference schedule is just too tough. But we play those games so the guys will be ready to play the best teams at this time of the season.”
He was referring to the postseason, where the 23-11 Jaguars are two wins away from the first state baseball championship in school history.
They have already faced their opening opponent, 22-12 Columbia Rock Bridge, and have faced another final four team in 28-10 Francis Howell.
Blue Springs South and Rock Bridge meet at 4 p.m. today, and 29-7 Vianney takes on Francis Howell at 6:30 p.m. at T.R. Hughes Stadium in O’Fallon, Mo.
The Jaguars have even been to T.R. Hughes Stadium as Baier coaxed the team bus driver to make a little side trip before they played in the St. Louis tournament.
“We were 1-1 against Rock Bridge, with Austin (Simms) beating them 10-1 in the Sedalia tournament, then we lost to them at their place,” Baier said. “We lost to Howell 3-1 in St. Louis, but none of those games were as big as the games we’re about to play.
“But because we played them, and because we’ve been to Hughes Stadium, there shouldn’t be any surprises. The kids know about Rock Bridge, Francis Howell – if we play them – and the stadium where the games are going to be played. And let’s not forget, we’re still playing a game. We’re playing baseball. We can’t forget about that.”
Baier ran his team through a spirited 2 1/2-hour practice earlier this week that began when Simms, Reece Eddins and a handful of their teammates arrived early to play a game of fungo golf, in which some of the players hit baseballs with fungo bats around the South baseball complex, seeing who could come back and hit the baseball mound first.
“Kids,” Baier said, chuckling. “You can see how nervous they are. And I like that. They’re ready to go and we’re all excited about going to O’Fallon.”