If just for a few minutes, Blue Springs Post 499/Junior Fike coach Dave Benson admitted some doubt started to creep in during Saturday’s Junior American Legion State Tournament championship.

If just for a few minutes, Blue Springs Post 499/Junior Fike coach Dave Benson admitted some doubt started to creep in during Saturday’s Junior American Legion State Tournament championship.

Once the dust settled at Hidden Valley Park, he kicked himself for not knowing better. Of course, this was state and the caliber of competition was obviously higher than Fike had faced all year. A loss, while disappointing, wouldn’t necessarily have been devastating since Daniel Boone Augusta Post 262 would have needed a second victory Sunday to earn the title.

But then again, Benson’s been around this team all season and he witnessed all the comebacks. Heck, it was only a week ago his squad rallied from six runs back against Sedalia to capture the Zone 2 championship.

So faced with a measly two-run fifth-inning deficit, he should have seen it coming. Another come-from-behind win. Another thrilling victory. Another championship.

Fike plated two runs in the fifth, added another on Cale Benson’s sacrifice fly as the game ventured into the eighth inning, secured the state championship with a 4-3 triumph and punched a ticket to the Mid-States Junior Legion Baseball Regional in Fargo, N.D.

“Even though we’ve come back a lot of times this year, we haven’t come back against a team of this caliber yet,” Benson said. “So I’d be lying if I said doubt wasn’t at least starting to creep in. But then I started thinking about how we’ve come back before in situations that looked worse than this.”

The margin Fike (40-4) faced was never more than a pair of runs, but Daniel Boone was clearly in control through the game’s early frames. Although Fike took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Reece Eddin’s RBI single, Daniel Boone tied the game in the bottom half and went up 3-1 with two runs in the third.

They also chased Fike starter Caleb Humphreys from the game after two innings. Cameron Miller entered in the third without much of a warm-up and faced a bases-loaded situation with the game tied. Two runs scored – one on a walk and another on a passed ball – but Miller dodged further damage and provided a boost.

“I was just trying to get out of there with the least amount of runs scored,” said Miller, who tossed 2 2/3 more scoreless innings. “Do whatever it takes and keep my composure.”

While Miller extinguished the threat and kept his team in the game, the Fike lineup still struggled to lash back, stranding six runners through the first four innings. But in the fifth, they finally broke through as Humphreys scored on a two-out error and J.J. Kirwin tied the game with an RBI single.

In the sixth, Daniel Boone placed runners on first and third with two outs when Braden Younkin was brought in to relieve Miller. Facing leadoff hitter Austin Forney, who reached in his three previous at-bats, Younkin coaxed a pop-up.

“With one or two innings left, my money’s on Braden every time,” Dave Benson said.
Fike finally regained the lead in the eighth as Kirwin led off with a double, advanced to third on Andrew Tristsch’s single and scored on Benson’s sacrifice fly to left. Younkin set Daniel Boone down in order and was mobbed by a pile of teammates near the pitcher’s mound.

Tritsch finished 3-for-4 and stole a pair of bases while Kirwin went 2-for-3, reached three times and scored a run. Eddins also ended 2-for-4.

Fike will play Northern Minnesota on Thursday.

“We’ve always wanted this so bad,” said Trevor Wendleton, the Fike left fielder who went 2-for-4, scored a run and made a game-saving catch in the seventh (see sidebar). “We’ve never wanted to give up on it. This is what we’ve been working for and hard work pays off.”