Two pitches.

Two lousy pitches.

That’s all Stuart Pudenz will probably remember on a night that he should be standing in the spotlight, dreaming about a possible final four baseball appearance.

Two pitches.
Two lousy pitches.
That’s all Stuart Pudenz will probably remember on a night that he should be standing in the spotlight, dreaming about a possible final four baseball appearance.
The Blue Springs South right-hander did all he could to help the Jaguars win their Class 4 Sectional game at Lee’s Summit North.
He allowed just one run and six hits through seven innings and even drove home the lone South run in a 1-1 tie.
The first North run came on a “mistake pitch” to Chad Shannon, who deposited it over the right-field wall for the Broncos’ first run.
The second mistake pitch was more devastating as Caleb Cole, the Broncos’ leadoff man, hit a solo homer to start the eighth inning and put an end to Pudenz’s brilliant high school season.
“I should have thrown him a curve,” Pudez said as he left the South dugout following the game. “He hit a fastball – and I should have thrown a curve.”
If one picture is truly worth 1,000 words, the shot of Pudenz sitting with his face buried in his hands sums up an evening of frustration.
After giving up the solo homer, Pudenz went to play first base. Danny McMurtrey relieved, and gave up a two-run homer to Brad Phillips to give the Broncos a 4-1 lead.
“I knew we wouldn’t give up in the bottom of the inning,” Pudenz said, “but it’s a tough way for the season to end – real tough.”
Pudenz has two losses this season and both came against a 23-5 North team. One was a 1-0 loss to the same starter who beat the Jaguars Tuesday night, crafty right-hander Dylan Jensen.
“If Stuart would have gotten any offensive help this season, his numbers would have been unbelievable,” South coach Ben Baier said. “His ERA in conference was under 1.00, but he had the loss to North and a couple of no decisions.
“But you never heard him complain. He just took the ball and pitched a great game every time he went out there.”
South did its best to keep Pudenz from losing that game as Derek Cox walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth to force in a run, but Daniel Fuchs came in from the bullpen to record the final out for the 23-5 Broncos, who travel to Liberty to play the Blue Jays at 4 p.m. Thursday in state quarterfinal action.
“I’m kind of used to this,” Pudenz said when asked about the lack of offense, “but it still hurts. I know how hard the guys are trying to score runs. It’s just a tough way for the season to end.
“I’ve been pitching against Dylan since we were both 8, and he’s a great pitcher. He deserved the win – but it doesn’t make it any easier.”
Cox – the heart and soul of a 14-11 South team that surprised many fans in the area after graduating the bulk of a team that set a school record for wins last season – summed up the season in simple fashion.
“We wanted to win this one for Stuart, for our fans, our school, our coaches – for everyone,” Cox said. “At least we went down fighting. If we would have gone down 1-2-3 in the eighth, I don’t know if I could have handled that.
“We had the chance to win, and we just came up short.”
The final inning had an impact on Phillips, whose third home run of the season provided the eventual winning runs.
“I was kind of sick to my stomach, just real nervous out there,” said Phillips, the North third baseman who recorded two outs in the eighth inning. “I just felt so relieved when we won. South is a good team. They’ve given us three good games this year, and we felt great getting out of here with our third win (this season) against them.”