Oran's semifinal foe seeks revenge
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
ORAN — Stoutland gets a shot at redemption for one of its two losses this season.
The Tigers face Oran in a Class 1 state semifinal game today at Meador Park in Springfield. The first pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m.
The Eagles clipped the Tigers 3-0 in the title game of the Stoutland baseball tournament April 27. Oran coach Mitch Wood doesn't care that the teams are familiar with each other.
"I don't put a lot of stock in that," Wood said. "In high school baseball, you see so many different things. High school kids are so inconsistent as far as playing. I think scouting is a little overrated at the high school level. There's so much inconsistency."
In their previous meeting, Jayden Pobst dominated the Tigers. The Oran junior struck out 13 in a complete-game one-hitter. He faced the minimum number of batters.
The Eagles beat Stoutland's ace, Cory Kyle. It was the lone loss for the 6-foot, 200-pound senior right-hander. Kyle sports a 4-1 record with an 0.23 ERA. He struck out 12, but allowed six hits against Oran earlier this season.
"We've got to have real good pitching and we've got to put the ball in play," Wood said. "We struck out a few too many times last time against them. We've got to put the ball in play against them. That's how we scored two of our runs, on errors. Pobst hit a home run, and we can't rely on that happening again. We're going to be in a big park. We've got to take care of business and make sure we hit the baseball."
Oran catcher Caleb Seyer missed the first meeting with Stoutland, so he's excited to get his hacks against the highly touted Kyle. But he said his team isn't looking past Stoutland despite the earlier win.
"We're not overconfident," Seyer said. "We just know we've got to win, do everything we can to win."
Kyle is more than a pitcher. He's also deadly with a bat. He leads the Tigers with a .625 average. He's belted six homers and driven in 17. He's one of four players with at least 50 at-bats with an average above .500. The Tigers bat .455 as a team.
Stoutland likes to run, having stolen 141 bases this season. But Seyer should help negate that. He's thrown out 31 this season.
While Oran is best known for its hitting, the Eagles feature three pitchers who have delivered all season. Pobst is 7-1 with an 0.87 ERA and 61 strikeouts. Steven Dooley is 5-0 with a 1.71 ERA and 77 Ks. Alex Chasteen is 5-2 with a 1.62 ERA and 44 strikeouts.
"All three are pretty darn good pitchers," Wood said. "I love it. I just wish we played best two out of three. I could handle that because I think we'd be really effective."
When it comes to hitting, the Eagles can hang with anyone. They bat .371 as a team, and have scored at least 10 runs 17 times this season, including the last three games. Leopold was the only team to hold Oran under 10 runs since the postseason began, a span of five games.
"If our defense is good, I think we can score at least one run," said Seyer, who's batting .485. "If our pitching is good enough to hold them to no runs, I think we can musher out one run."
Senior leadoff man Kody Campbell gets things started for the Eagles. He's batting .535 with seven homers and 34 RBIs this season. He also has swiped 15 bases.
Dooley, who has moved into the No. 2 hole, is batting .398 with 16 RBIs. Pobst leads the team with nine homers, and Tyler Beardslee has driven in a team-high 40 runs.
The winner of today's semifinal will face the winner of the other semifinal, between New Haven (17-2) and Santa Fe (18-0). This is Oran's fifth trip to the final four in the last seven years, but the Eagles still are searching for their first state title. Pobst said this year's team is ready to bring home the town's first state crown.
"I'm looking forward to winning the title," Pobst said. "There's nothing else. That's what we're going to do. We'll get the job done. We've got the people. We've got the pitching. We've got the hitting. We've got the fielding."