Levi Legate made a quiet visit to Ben Baier’s office inside Blue Springs South High School Wednesday morning to let the coach know that if he was needed in the Class 5 District 14 baseball championship game later in the day, he was ready.

It was a bit of foreshadowing as Legate played a huge role in a 4-2 Class 5 District 14 victory over the host Grain Valley Eagles.

Legate – who lost his right eye in his first at-bat this season when a foul ball struck him in the face – had only appeared in one other game for the Jaguars this season – a ceremonial leadoff at-bat, in which he was intentionally walked – on Senior Day.

“I wanted Coach to know that I could help team on the base paths, that I could be used as a pinch runner,” Legate said, “and I was so happy that he agreed with me.”

The No. 2-seeded Jaguars were facing top seed Grain Valley and Oklahoma State University verbal commit Jacob Misiorowski in a game that coaches from both teams felt that runs would be hard to come by.

Misiorowski threw no-hit ball through four innings, but Cale Sackewitz led off the top of the fifth inning with a single.

Moments later after Jaylon Johnson moved him over on a sacrifice bunt, he looked across the field and saw Legate – his best friend on the team – sprinting to second base to serve as a pinch runner.

“I got chills,” Sackewitz said. “I looked at our dugout and the guys were going crazy. They were yelling and screaming and jumping up and down. Levi finally got in a game and I knew we were going to get him home.”

They did, as Isaiah Frost delivered a two-out RBI single that paved the way to a four-run inning and a dramatic district championship win.

“With Levi on second, and two outs, I just said to myself, ‘You gotta get him in, you gotta get a hit and get Levi home, and I was able to do,” Frost said. “Best feeling ever. When Levi scored and we got that lead we all knew we were going to win the game.”

Leadoff man Grant Geren followed with a third hit, an RBI single, and Caleb Israelite reached first when he struck out on a wild pitch.

Geren scored on a wild pitch and John Herrman delivered an RBI single – all with two outs.

“It couldn’t have worked out any better than it did,” said Legate, who was mobbed by his teammates after the biggest win of the season. “I just wanted Coach to know I was ready – but no one could ever expect an inning like that – I replace my best friend on base, I score the first run of the game and we win a district championship. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”

When asked if he sent Legate into the game to spark his team, Baier shook his head “no.”

“I could say I did and make for a great story,” Baier quipped after his team improved to 17-12, “but after talking to Levi this morning, I knew he was ready and I knew he was fast. I wanted a fast guy on second base.

“As it turns out, with him replacing Cale, his best friend, and scoring the big run, it’s a great story to write, but we just needed a fast guy on second base to help us win the game and Levi was the right guy for that situation.”

Nearly lost in the dramatic fifth inning was the brilliant effort of winning pitcher Brady Strickert and reliever Herrman, who went to the mound from his shortstop position.

Strickert left nine runners on base – including the bases loaded with no outs in the fourth inning – in four shutout innings.

“I got into trouble – a lot of trouble with runners on base – but I was able to get out of it,” Strickert said. “Coach Baier keeps talking about playing for the other guys on the team, playing for the name on the front of your jersey and that’s what we did today.”

Herrman allowed an RBI single to Christian Lynn in the bottom of the sixth inning and an RBI double to Cole Keller, who finished with three hits, in the seventh.

But with runners on second and third and two outs, he coaxed a pop-up on the infield for the last out, spurring a dogpile on the mound.

While the Jaguars were celebrating and posing for photos with the district championship plaque, Grain Valley coach Brian Driskell sat in his dugout waiting to talk about the toughest loss of the season.

“Missed opportunities,” Driskell said after the Eagles wrapped up a 20-11 campaign that included a conference championship in their first season in the Suburban Small Seven. “We left too many men on base, and Ben’s guys found a way to win. He does such a great job with his kids and they never give up. That’s a great program. And even though we lost today, I am so proud of the job our guys did this season.

“We only lose two seniors – Jesse (Scholtz) and Christian – and the guys are already talking about next season.”

The district title was the fourth in a row for the Jaguars, who have won district crowns in six of the past seven years. They advance to Tuesday’s Class 5 sectional playoff at District 13 champion Rockhurst (19-10). Game time is still to be determined.

“We’re playing our best ball when it matters the most,” Baier said. “I’m proud of the guys – really proud.”