O’FALLON, Mo. - The Blue Springs South High School baseball team was down to its final three outs of the season when catcher Allante Hall stepped to the plate.
His Jaguars trailed St. Louis DeSmet 3-2 Friday morning in the top of the seventh inning of the Class 5 state third-place contest and were in need of a timely hit.
“I knew we were down to our last three outs, but I wasn’t going to change anything,” said Hall, who opened the seventh with a double that paved the way for a two-run inning and a 4-3 win at CarShield Field.
“We play the same no matter what – hit the ball hard, move the runners, play the type of baseball that got us to the final four – and that’s what we did in the seventh inning.”
After Hall doubled off Charles Thomasson and Levi Legate entered the game as a pinch runner, John Herrman smacked an RBI single off the DeSmet closer to tie it 3-3.
“Like Allante said, ‘Just keep it going, hit hit hard, try to make something happen,’” Herrman said. “I knew if I hit the ball hard, we had a chance to tie the game. And then the guys after me would get me home.”
Derek Mammen and pinch hitter Hunter Nyquist then played “Baier Ball,” the type of small ball that is so popular with Jaguars coach Ben Baier.
They each bunted for a base hit, to set the stage for Will Heller. He drove the ball to deep center field to score the senior shortstop with the go-ahead run.
“Hit the ball hard,” Heller said of his thoughts in that at-bat. “Those guys worked so hard to get in a position for me to drive them in, I couldn’t let them down. When we got the lead, I knew we were doing to win.”
So did Brandt Lightner. He started the game and allowed just two hits through four scoreless innings. He left with a 2-0 lead, but Andrew Simms came out of the bullpen and allowed three runs with two outs in the fifth.
Brandt took the mound again, and got the final out. With the team taking the 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh, it was his game to win, and he was not going to disappoint anyone.
“That was by design,” Baier said of the pitching change after his team put the wraps on a 23-9 season. “I wanted to play all my seniors, and Andrew hadn’t pitched. I told Brandt to get ready if anything happened out there, and Brandt came back in and did the job.”
The big lefty recorded a pop-up and two strikeouts against the Spartans’ 5-6-7 batters to set off a celebration near the mound.
“This wasn’t the game we wanted to be playing today,” Lightner said, “We wanted to play in the championship game. That didn’t happen – so that made this game very important to all of us. We didn’t want to lose our final game as seniors.
“So, winning the third-place game wasn’t so bad. In fact, it feels pretty good.”
The Jaguars scored their two solo runs in the first and third innings. Dustin Brewer led off the game with a walk, went to second on a groundout and scored as he stole third base and the throw from catcher Vince Hilboldt sailed into left field.
Jared Ravencamp then opened the third with a double, advanced to third base on a long fly out by Hall and scored on Herrman’s sacrifice fly.