It was called the MOAB – Mother of All Bombs – and it was recently dropped on ISIS targets in Syria.
The largest non-nuclear bomb in U.S. history was made at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester, Oklahoma, the site of the 2017 Junior Sunbelt Classic.
“We went and saw the MOAB and it inspired me to set off some of my own bombs,” said Blue Springs High School senior-to-be Jake Lufft, who hit .452 with 14 hits, three homers, 12 RBIs and eight runs for a Missouri team that won its first championship since 2007.
Lufft was the starting pitcher, hit a first-inning homer, a game-tying single and was named the tourney MVP following a thrilling eight-inning 4-3 win over Texas in the finals on Wednesday.
After scoring twice in the seventh inning to send the game into extra innings, Missouri scored the winning run on a dropped third strike at McAlester High School’s Mike Deak Field.
“We just had faith in each other and we just knew we were going to win that game,” Lufft added. “It was such a great tournament. We all became friends – became a team – really quick. We were there to win a championship because everyone thought a team from Texas or Oklahoma would win the championship. But we wanted to show them we play good baseball in Missouri too.”
Grain Valley baseball coach Brian Driskell was part of the Missouri coaching staff, along with Blue Springs South’s Ben Baier.
“These Missouri kids really did come together as a team,” Driskell said. “They’re one of the most talented groups I’ve been around. They really bonded and came together. They didn’t care who got the glory as long as they won that championship game – and they found a way to do it.”
Lufft, Blue Springs teammate Caleb Marquez and Blue Springs South’s Allante Hall all made the all-tournament team.
“Lufft was a monster,” Driskell said. “He hit some of the longest home runs I’ve seen – real bombs. Marquez and Hall did great, too. The only bad thing is that we (Grain Valley) play Blue Springs in district next year, so I already told Lufft and Marquez we’re going to walk them each time they come up to bat.”
Driskell was kidding about the walks, but was dead serious about the talent of the Missouri team.
“We had some talent – and man, was there ever a lot of talent in this tournament,” the Grain Valley coach added. “It’s rare to see a kid throw in the 90s in high school, and down here, everyone was throwing in the 90s. A kid might leave a game, and they’d bring in another kid who was throwing in the 90s.”
Texas led 3-1 going into the sixth inning as Lufft’s homer was the lone Missouri score to that point.
Missouri rallied in the top of the seventh with two runs to tie it 3-3 with Lufft driving home the tying run with an RBI single.
“All the kids stay with families in the McAlester area,” Driskell said, “and when Jake tied the game with that RBI single, all the host families went crazy. So did our kids. It was a great scene.”
Missouri’s Jake Wilson walked the first batter in the bottom of the seventh before getting a strikeout, a fly out and a groundout to send the game into extra innings.
Missouri’s Braedyn McLaughlin scored from third on a third strike that got away from the Texas catcher and Missouri had a 4-2 lead going into the bottom of the eighth inning.
Texas had runners on the corners with two outs and Missouri’s Jake Wilson struck out the final batter to start a wild celebration on the mound.
“That was a great dogpile,” Lufft said. “It was the perfect way to end the tournament. I can’t even tell you how happy I am that we won.”
Marquez finished the tournament hitting .375 with a homer, six RBIs and five runs, and Hall hit .308 with two homers and seven RBIs in the tournament that features some of the top junior all-stars from Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma (two teams), Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Colorado, Arizona and Canada.