This was more like it.
This was more like it.
Thursday night represented a dodged disaster for the Blue Springs Post 499/Fike Junior baseball squad. Friday, well, to quote Fike first baseman Cale Benson, that was the Fike standard.
One day after manufacturing a sloppy 17-9 victory over West Plains in a game that included 12 errors, Fike advanced to the finals of the Junior American Legion State Tournament with a convincing 10-0 five-inning triumph over Maryland Heights Post 213 at Hidden Valley Park.
“That right there was like our standard,” said Benson, who finished 3-for-4 with an inside-the-park homer and three runs scored. “We expect to come out and play and execute and everything. Last night, I don’t think anybody came out ready to stick it to them.”
Fike (39-4) came out ready and jumped out to an early lead. Two runs scored in the bottom of the first as Caleb Humphreys stroked an RBI single and scored on an error. Four more crossed in the second – two on Braden Younkin’s single, one on Reece Eddins’ fielder’s choice and another on a wild pitch – and Fike never looked back.
“That kind of took (Maryland Heights) out of what they normally do,” Fike coach Dave Benson said. “They like to hit-and-run a lot, they bunt a lot, they steal a lot because they have a lot of good athletes. But they weren’t able to do that when we got out to our lead.”
They also weren’t able to do it because Fike starter Reece Eddins was nearly untouchable. Eddins, who had only tossed seven innings for Junior Fike before Friday because he’s spent most of the season with the senior squad, allowed only two hits and struck out six.
“He’s been the man for our senior team,” Dave Benson said. “And he was able to come out and put on one of those clinics like he did today, hitting spots. He had one rough inning where he walked the first two guys, and other than that he was hitting his spots, pitching to contact and the defense was playing well behind him.”
Eddins did issue three walks, but held Maryland Heights to 1-for-7 with runners on.
“I was keeping it relatively low and throwing strikes and not letting the fans get to me,” Eddins said. “They didn’t really hit my fastball too well so I just tried to throw that in there.”
Offensively, Fike was just as impressive. Seven times they worked Maryland Heights pitchers to full counts and consistently executed sacrifice bunts and hit-and-runs.
“All of our hitters were patient and that’s what got it,” Dave Benson said. “We didn’t have to feel like we had to hit a three-run home run with nobody on base. We took what they gave us. We got guys on and we stayed patient and waited for our pitch and just attacked.”
Six Fike hitters reached base at least twice. Eddins went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Younkin finished 1-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored and Cameron Miller scored twice.
The effort was solid on all accounts, but Dave Benson admitted his club was the benefactor of an off day from Maryland Heights. He speculated that a 10-game series between the two squads would end in a tie with one-run differences more times than not.
He also added that Saturday’s the day that really matters. Fike plays the Maryland Heights-West Plains winner at 4 p.m.
“We haven’t won anything yet and we know that,” he said. “And we know that 10-0 game just now is not indicative of who we are. ... It’s just one more thing that we’re able to check off. Tomorrow we’ve got to come back out and do it again because nobody’s going to give it to us.”