Eagles capitalize on Scott City's error en route to victory

Thursday, May 26, 2005

After Hunter Jones hit a high fly ball with the bases loaded in the second inning, the East Prairie fans lowered their heads as another golden opportunity appeared to go by the wayside.

Before the Scott City faithful could cheer another masterful escape job by Rams starting pitcher Andy Stephens, though, right fielder Ryan Modglin dropped the ball, allowing all three runners to score.

East Prairie (20-2) tacked on another unearned run in the inning and used a six-inning gem from starter Preston Shoemaker to get by Scott City 4-1 in a Class 2 sectional game Wednesday at East Prairie.

The Eagles, who were making their first sectional appearance since 1995, will play in the quarterfinals Friday against Clearwater. This is the first 20-win season for East Prairie.

"It was huge," Scott City coach Mike Umfleet said of the play. "Ninety-eight out of 100 times, he's going to make that play. It just so happened he didn't."

Added East Prairie coach Jason Aycock: "Hunter Jones hit a high fly ball, and he misjudged it. You just have to capitalize on mistakes, and good teams do that."

Stephens struck out Shoemaker to end the inning after a throwing error by Jason Schenimann brought Jones home to make the score 4-0. The first three runners reached in the second on a pair of singles and a walk. The next two batters were retired on a pop fly and a strikeout before Jones came to the plate.

An inning earlier, Stephens managed to get out of a similar jam. Jones led off the Eagles' first with a double off the fence and reached third on a wild pitch. Stephens got out of that jam unscathed with a strikeout and two groundouts.

"He pitched out of a few jams and did well," Umfleet said. "It never boils down to one play."

Unfazed by the fielding miscue, Scott City (10-10) climbed back into the game with a run in the third. Luke McClellan walked with one out and scored on a hit into the right-field corner by Blake Dirnberger, who was able to reach second when the outfielder booted the ball.

Scott City ended up leaving two men on in the inning, bringing its total to four left on through three innings.

In the fourth Scott City had runners on second and third with just one out but failed to capitalize.

Meanwhile, Stephens worked through the East Prairie lineup. The Eagles had just two hits over the next four innings. In six innings, Stephens allowed five hits, struck out six, walked one and hit a batter.

"He did what he's done all year," Umfleet said. "He didn't have his best stuff, he's done better, but he battled and competed. That's the kind of player he is."

Aycock was equally impressed by Scott City's junior left-hander.

"Andy Stephens, to me, he's the best pitcher we've faced all year," Aycock said. "My hats off to that kid."

Shoemaker came out after pitching six innings for the Eagles. The surprise starter allowed just four hits.

"We were getting ready for [Ben] Walters or [Zach] Secoy, but he [Aycock] knows them better than I do," Umfleet said. "Obviously, he made the right decision."

In the seventh, Walters came on to close things out for the Eagles. Scott City did not go down quietly, loading the bases before Kyle Curry flied out to end the game.

Scott City ended its season by making its first sectional appearance since 1991. The Rams will lose five starters from Wednesday's lineup to graduation.

"This group of seniors is as good as any around," Umfleet said.


Scott City 0010000--163
East Prairie040000X--452

WP -- Preston Shoemaker. LP -- Andy Stephens. 2B -- Mark Johnston (S), Hunter Jones (E). Multiple hits -- East Prairie, Taylor White 2-3; William O'Guin 2-3. Records -- East Prairie 20-2, Scott City 10-10.

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