As each batter approached the plate in a memorable 12-2 William Chrisman High School Senior Night victory over visiting Fort Osage, Taylor Perry called out words of encouragement.
“I have a Twinkie for you!” he shouted to fellow senior Jordan Mabie, before he crushed a two-run double, in a 10-run third inning. “If you don’t get a hit, you get a salad – or just kale.”
Everyone in the bleachers, to the last players on the Bears bench, were cracking up, enjoying every minute of the offensive attack on the field and the G-rated offensive banter from Perry.
And the son of Chrisman football coach Matt Perry, who is a two-time Academic All-State performer, saved the best for last.
With the Bears holding an 11-2 lead in the fourth inning, he crushed a solo home run to deep right centerfield to account for the mercy rule, five-inning victory.
When asked if he was rewarded with a Twinkie, he didn’t skip a beat.
“No, I’m on a diet,” he said, as he grabbed a glove and went out to play catch with his father. “But I’ve found that kale tastes pretty good when you put it in a Twinkie, or a smoothie.”
This was a Bears win over an Indians team that was playing for something special.
It was an Indians team that needed just one to claim the Suburban Middle Seven Conference crown.
“They were playing for something, a conference championship, which makes this win even more special,” said Bears coach Miles Shelton, who started all eight of his seniors. “To start all eight seniors, and hit the ball like we did tonight and get a big win over one of our big rivals, is really special.”
After the game, the sons and fathers returned to the field where the moms received a bouquet, and the dads played catch with their sons.
“Tonight was perfect, as perfect as a Twinkie,” quipped Perry, who had been struggling at the plate. “They’re our big rival and to get a win like this the week before district makes it even more special. We all want to take this momentum in district play next week at Grain Valley.”
The eight seniors who made the same so memorable were:
• Connor Yeisley, who had a bases-loaded, 3-run double, scored two runs and threw out an Indians runner at the plate from left field to end the game.
• Dawson Herl, who had two singles and a double, scored three runs and had a single and RBI double in the 10-run third inning.
• Jordan Mabie, who made the game-ending tag at home and had two singles, a double, scored a run and drove home three more runs.
• Seth Gossett, who allowed just two runs in five innings and had an RBI fielder’s choice.
• Fausto Montero, had an RBI double.
• Perry, who had the solo homer, two walks, a stolen base - yes, a stolen base - and enough quips to keep everyone entertained for hours.
• Brennan McGraw, hit by a pitch.
• Jonathan Dotson, walked and scored a run
• Junior third baseman Matt Miller was the lone underclassman to start, and he had an RBI single and scored two runs.
“I couldn’t be any prouder of my guys,” Shelton said, after the Bears improved to 7-15 overall and 4-8 in the Middle Seven. “Every ball we hit tonight, we hit hard. Our guys earned this win, and Taylor had been struggling at it was great to see him hit that ball out of the park.”
Before they played catch with their fathers, many of the seniors talked about the big win.
“I’ve seen every Senior Night over the last four years and this was definitely the best,” Mabie said. “All the seniors started and all contributed to this win — so cool.”
Added Herl, “There was just a great atmosphere here tonight. We were hitting the ball and having fun.”
Fort Osage coach Todd Bissell tipped his hat to the Bears after his Indians fell to 8-14 overall and 7-2 in the conference.
“We win conference outright if we win tonight, so they beat a team that was really playing for something, a conference championship,” Bissell said. “I don’t know if they’ve hit the ball that hard or that well all season — but they earned every hit and every run tonight.
“They were just crushing the ball and their pitcher did a nice job, too. We just have to forget about this one and go out and do our best to get a (conference) win Thursday at North Kansas City.”
Fort Osage’s Ethan Gotch had a double and scored a run, Jared Larson had an RBI single, Logan Phillips and Von Young each had two singles and Jaden Melissinas added a sacrifice fly to drive home the second Indians’ run.