When you sport a 38-4 record, your team can basically win in a variety of ways.

When you sport a 38-4 record, your team can basically win in a variety of ways.

“We’ve won close games, we’ve come back and won games in the late innings, we have great hitting performances and great pitching performances,” Blue Springs Post 499/Fike Junior field manager John Kirwin said Thursday night at Hidden Valley Park, where his team overcame a variety of miscues to claim a 17-9 victory over West Plains in the Junior American Legion State Tournament.

“Tonight, we learned how to win ugly. Now, I wouldn’t want to do that every game, but the kids can learn from a game like this. They learned what it takes to overcome some mistakes (please see sidebar) and they found a way to win. I’m proud of them.”
The heart of the lineup helped Fike advance to today’s 1 p.m. contest as No. 2 hitter Braden Younkin had three hits and scored five runs; No. 3 Reece Eddins added four hits, two runs and three RBIs; cleanup hitter Caleb Humphreys had two hits, scored two runs and drove home three; and No. 5 hitter Trevor Wendleton joined in on the offensive fun with two hits, a run scored and three RBIs.

“We got some bombs and we played small ball,” Kirwin said. “We had a couple of successful suicide bunts with two strikes and the bottom part of our lineup did a great job getting the ball down. It wasn’t a pretty game, we made way too many mistakes, but we really hit the ball well and Andrew Olsen came in pitched well over the last couple of innings.”

Wendleton’s two-run double gave Fike a 2-1 first-inning lead and the local powerhouse added four runs in the third inning with Humphreys, Wendleton and J.J. Kirwin getting RBIs.

The Merchants chipped away at Fike’s lead, but could never make a serious run as the hometown team scored two runs in the fourth, five in the fifth and three in the sixth.

“We’re a good offensive team,” said Eddins, who split his time on the mound this season between Junior and Senior Fike. “When you pitch, you always feel confident no matter how many runs you give up because you know we’re going to score a lot of runs.”

Reece will be on the mound today as Junior Fike attempts to make it to the 4 p.m. Saturday state championship game.

“I’m excited about Friday’s game,” Eddins said. “I think we have a good shot at winning state, but we have to play a better overall game than we played today.”

Alex Smith pitched the first 4 2/3 innings and got the win.