Ben Bryan's walk-off grand slam lifts Blue Springs South past feisty Patriots
It doesn't get much more exciting than this.
Through six innings, the Truman and host Blue Springs South baseball teams were in a pitchers' duel that defied the 35 mph wind that was steamrolling to left field.
Players from each team maintained discipline at the plate and it resulted in a 3-3 tie heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
That's when leadoff hitter Isaiah Frost, who has signed with Missouri, collected his second double of the game. Truman coach Corey Lathrom ordered freshman pitcher Brandon Lindle to walk Jordan Austin to set up a double play.
Quinton Robertson then attempted a sacrifice bunt that was perfect, as it loaded the bases with no outs.
Cleanup hitter Ben Bryan then stepped to the plate and hit a bomb deep over the left-field fence for a walk-off grand slam and a 7-3 victory.
"I went up to the plate and just wanted to hit the ball hard," said Bryan, a senior who played varsity two years ago as a sophomore. "My dad and all my coaches tell me the difference between trying to hit a home run and hitting the ball hard is pretty simple. I just wanted to get the ball on the ground and make something happen.
"It just so happened I hit a home run, but I wasn't trying to."
He grinned, and paused for a moment and added, "But it was a cool way to end the game."
Before he talked about his 6-3 Jaguars – the No. 5-ranked team in the state – coach Ben Baier praised Lathrom and his young Patriots team.
"What Corey is doing at Truman is special," Baier said. "His kids play the game the right way, and I like that. After the game I made sure to tell him how impressed I am with his team."
Lathrom, whose Patriots are 5-4, returned the praise.
"Year in and year out, you know Ben's teams are going to be among the best in the state," Lathrom said. "There's a reason they're the No. 5 team in the state, and even though we lost, I am ecstatic.
"You could tell this was a big game for our program. On the bus ride over, there was no music and no one was saying anything. Other than opening day, this was as excited as I have been about a game all season. When we went into the seventh tied 3-3 I thought, 'Well, we can only lose by one run if they score.' But that young man got all of that ball. We wish them luck the rest of the season."
Dane Blankenship allowed two runs through the first four innings for the Patriots.
Jacob Rehkow allowed two runs for the Jaguars. John Chambers allowed an inherited runner to score as the Patriots took a 3-2 lead on Sam Scott's sacrifice fly to center in the top of the sixth inning.
The Jaguars knotted it 3-3 in the bottom of the inning on Grant Hollister's sacrifice fly to left field.
Frost's leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh set the stage for Bryan's heroics.
"My job is to get on base and let someone drive me in and I was able to do that a couple of times tonight," said Frost, who had two doubles, a triple and scored two runs. "I had the best seat in the house at third base when Ben hit the grand slam – and he got all of it!"
Truman leadoff hitter Randy Ayala had two doubles, an RBI and scored a run.
Frost’s RBI double and Austin’s RBI single put the Jaguars ahead 2-0 in the third.
The Patriots tied it in the top of the fourth on Ben Kerby’s RBI single and Ayala’s RBI double.
Chambers allowed no hits and one walk while striking out two in two innings to earn the win.