After a big 10-4 victory against Rockhurst Tuesday, the Blue Springs South baseball team has a chance to do something that it hasn’t done since 2014 – make it to the state final four.
That win came in the Class 5 sectional round and South will take on Liberty, a 5-3 winner over St. Joseph Central, in the state quarterfinals at 5 p.m. today at Liberty High School.
The Jaguars’ offense has caught fire as of late, averaging 8.33 runs per game over the last nine games. For South right fielder Derek Mammen, he just said his team needs to do more of the same to get past Liberty.
“They are just like us – they compete every pitch,” Mammen said. “We’ve just got to come out and find a way. We just have to keep playing baseball the way we are right now. We’re doing a good job not trying to do too much. We are just playing within ourselves.”
South coach Ben Baier expects a big challenge from Liberty, a team that the Jaguars split a doubleheader with in the regular season. He said he expects the Blue Jays to do anything they can to manufacture runs.
“They will be tough, they will come out with a lot of energy,” Baier said of Liberty. “Their coaching is really good. Kirk (Bragg) does a really good job with his players. He finds a way every year.
“They play a lot of small ball and they run the bases really well. It should be a fun game and a fun atmosphere.”
During the regular season doubleheader, South only managed two hits in a 6-1 loss during the first game. During the second game, the South offense erupted in a 10-0 mercy-rule victory.
“We walked a bunch of guys in the first game and they got some timely hits,” Baier said.
Although the offense has been on fire as of late, Baier pointed to the pitching and defense as the reason for South’s playoff success.
In sectionals against Rockhurst, Heller allowed four runs on eight hits, but ate up a lot of innings as he tossed 6 2/3 to get the win. In the district championship game against Blue Springs, starting pitcher Brandt Lightner allowed six runs in five-plus innings against Blue Springs for the win. He will get the ball against Liberty.
“We’ve done a good job on the mound and have played really good defense,” Baier said. “Outfield defense and behind the plate has been really strong.
“Brandt has done a good job. He mixes it up and he’ll compete. I think our guys have a lot of faith when he’s out there. He hits his spots pretty well. He changes angles really well.”
After winning in sectionals for the first time in four years, the next step is to make it to the state semifinals for the second time in school history.
“Tomorrow will be a dogfight,” Baier said. “And I have faith that our guys will come to play.”