Jackson earns regional berth before loss in state final
Monday, July 27, 2009 ~ Updated 11:10 PM
Charleston won its third straight Senior Babe Ruth state crown with a 10-7 victory
The Charleston and Jackson Senior Babe Ruth baseball teams both emerged as winners Sunday.
Charleston captured its third consecutive state title with a 10-7 victory over host Jackson.
The Fighting Squirrels (27-18) went 4-0 in the six-team, double-elimination state tournament at Legion Field.
"That's awesome," Charleston coach Michael Minner said of the three-peat. "It's not easy. And we had some tough ballgames in this tournament.
"I'm really proud of the guys. We played a tough schedule, and it helped us prepare for this tournament."
Despite failing to win state, Jackson had plenty to be happy about.
Because Charleston is hosting the Senior Babe Ruth Midwest Plains Regional that starts Saturday, the Squirrels gain an automatic spot in the field. That meant if the Squirrels claimed the state title, the runner-up also would advance as the Missouri representative. So a regional berth was on the line in Sunday's losers bracket final between Jackson and Boonville.
Jackson (30-5) came out on top 9-5, building a 9-0 lead and surviving a five-run Boonville rally in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"Our 30th win and Jackson gets to the Senior Babe Ruth regional for the first time ever," said Jackson coach Paul Sander following the triumph that clinched at least second place in the state for his squad.
"We wouldn't have thought that we'd get 30 wins when the season started. And now going to regionals, it's kind of a once-in-a-lifetime season. This is a great group of kids."
Chris Roth pitched Jackson past Boonville as he carried a three-hit shutout into the final inning. Boonville got four hits in the frame, but all five runs were unearned.
"I was a little disappointed [in losing the shutout]," Roth said. "But we got the win and we're going to regionals."Roth, Jackson's ace, said he was excited to get the ball in the game that would determine Jackson's fate regarding a regional berth.
"I was really pumped up," said Roth, who struck out eight and walked one. "I knew going in that it could be my last game pitching if we didn't win. I gave it my all."
Sander said he felt confident with Roth on the mound. Roth was the ace of the Saxony Lutheran High School team that Sander coaches.
"I've coached him for three years at Saxony and in the summer. We've never played a game with him on the mound where he hasn't kept us in the game," Sander said. "He's a bulldog. He's quite a pitcher. He was on today."
Roth also had three of Jackson's 13 hits, as did Garrett Fritsche. Spencer Sander, Alex Beussink and Ryan Bass each added two hits. Sander and Beussink had two RBIs apiece.
With a regional berth secured, Jackson took the field about 45 minutes later to tangle with its season-long nemesis. Jackson needed to beat Charleston twice to win the state title.
Of Jackson's four losses entering the game, the Squirrels were responsible for three. Things were tight the entire way, but Charleston prevailed to improve to 4-0 against Jackson.
Charleston, which beat Jackson 12-8 in Saturday's winners bracket final, broke a 7-7 tie on Mikey Russell's two-run single in the top of the third inning.
What started out as a slugfest then settled down. Charleston scored the game's only other run in the fifth inning.
Russell was the winning pitcher. After allowing seven runs in the first two innings, he fired off four straight scoreless frames.
With two on and one out in the seventh, Minner called on James Naile, the winner in Charleston's tournament opener Thursday who earned a save in Saturday's victory.
After an error loaded the bases, Naile got a double-play ground ball to end the contest and notch his second tournament save.
"After the first two innings, [Russell] threw the ball extremely well," Minner said. "He ran out of gas, and James has done the job for us all year."
Russell, Naile and Colin Gilooly each had two of Charleston's 10 hits. Tyler Whybark belted his second home run in two days against Jackson. He had three RBIs, as did Russell.
"We swung the bats extremely well. That's what won the tournament for us," said Minner, whose squad scored at least 10 runs in all four tournament games.
Jackson had nine hits, led by Bass and Bret Steffens with two each. Steffens homered.
Beussink, the second of three Jackson pitchers, took the loss. He allowed five runs in five innings. Starter B.I. Howard was knocked out with nobody out in the second after allowing five runs.