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Cobb's arm grabs district crown for Rams
PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- Skylar Cobb wasn't perfect this time.
But Cobb again was dominant to lead the Scott City baseball team to the Class 2 District 3 championship.
Cobb threw his second straight tournament shutout Saturday as the top-seeded Rams beat No. 2 Charleston 3-0 at the Perryville City Park.
Scott City (17-4), which won its third district title in four years, will play in the sectional round at 4:30 p.m. Monday against host Crystal City (17-5) at West City Park in Festus, Mo.
"These things don't get old," said Scott City coach Lance Amick, who led the Rams to the 2008 state championship for the school's first state title in any sport. "I'm happy for the kids. It's a special group of kids. Every group is."
Special is a good word to describe Cobb, a senior left-hander who will play at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Mo., next season.
Cobb was coming off Tuesday's perfect game against first-round opponent Kelly in which he struck out 17. Cobb (8-1) again struck out 17 on Saturday, but had to work around trouble most of the way.
Charleston (17-8) had five hits and received three walks. Two more runners reached on errors and another when a third strike got away for a wild pitch.
The Blue Jays wound up stranding 11 runners, seven over the last three innings, including the bases loaded in the fifth. They also had runners on first and third with nobody out in the opening inning but could not capitalize as Cobb got a pop fly and two strikeouts.
"I had a couple of control problems here and there," Cobb said. "They played a heck of a game. They can swing the bat.
"They had runners on base. I made the pitches when I had to. I felt good. Early in the game my velocity was up. My curve went well."
Cobb admitted that he was running on fumes at the end as the seventh and final inning marked the only frame in which he did not record more than one strikeout.
With one out in the seventh, James Naile walked and Zach Rowland singled. The runners moved up on a wild pitch, but Cobb caught Ethan Browning's pop up and finished off the victory in style by striking out Justin Hardin.
"My whole body was tired the last inning," Cobb said.
Amick expected nothing less than the performance his ace turned in.
"I've talked a lot about him this year but it doesn't get old," Amick said. "He's got a heart. ... Everything that comes his way, he deserves it."
Charleston coach Michael Minner lamented all the Blue Jays' missed opportunities.
"When you leave 11 runners on and strike out 17 times, we just didn't deserve to win," said Minner, whose squad tied the school record for wins. "We had some chances. If we could have put a ball in play, you never know what might have happened.
"But at the same time, Skylar Cobb is a competitor. He was in total command today."
Rain plagued the tournament as four days of scheduled play were wiped out, including two that benefited the Rams.
The championship game originally was scheduled for Thursday, then pushed back to Friday and finally Saturday.
Had the title contest been played Thursday, Cobb would not have started and would have been restricted to three innings under state regulations that limit pitchers to 10 innings over a three-day period.
Cobb said he would have started had the game been held Friday but another rainout gave him an extra day of rest.
"Mother Nature helped us out a little bit, no question about it," Amick said.
As good as Cobb was, Naile wasn't far behind.
Naile, Charleston's ace junior right-hander, allowed six hits, three coming in the sixth inning when the Rams scored their only earned run. He struck out eight and walked none, although he hit two batters.
Scott City broke on top with a third-inning unearned run despite not having a hit.
Landon Robert was on first base with two outs after reaching on a fielder's choice when Cobb's fly ball to right field was dropped for a three-base error that allowed Robert to score.
The Rams made it 2-0 in the fourth inning. Chris Limbaugh led off with a double and was on third base with one out. He still was there with two outs and a 1-2 count on Heath Pobst when Amick decided to try a play that ended up paying dividends.
Amick yelled at Limbaugh to break for the plate as soon as Naile started his windup. Naile stopped before making the pitch, an automatic balk that allowed Limbaugh to come home.
"We got two strikes on the hitter and he didn't look very comfortable," Amick said. "If it works, you look great. If it doesn't, you look stupid."
Limbaugh said he and Amick had discussed the play earlier in the inning after he reached third base.
"He just told me to break for home and try to get him to balk," said Limbaugh, a junior. He and Cobb are the only two starters remaining from Scott City's 2008 state championship team.
"He said 'Go, go.' It's one of those deals, 1-0, an extra run means a lot," Limbaugh said. "It was a big run. ... It takes a little pressure off Skylar."
Scott City got its only earned run in the sixth inning. Brett Dirnberger led off with a double and scored on a one-out single by Jamie Scholz.
"The runs we got, we grounded them out. We manufactured runs," Cobb said.
The Rams, who start just two seniors -- Cobb, a center fielder when not pitching, and left fielder Wyatt Martin -- were thrilled to win another district title after being upset by Kelly in the semifinals last year.
"It feels good," Martin said. "We're young, but I think we've picked it up. It's been a fun year."
The Rams hope to continue having fun Monday when they face Crystal City, which won the District 4 title Friday with a 1-0 win over defending state champion Valle Catholic.
WP -- Skylar Cobb, 8-1. LP -- James Naile. 2B -- Marshall Stallings (C), Brett Dirnberger (SC), Chris Limbaugh (SC). Multiple hits -- Charleston: Stallings 2-3, Justin Hardin 2-4. Records -- Charleston 17-8, Scott City 17-4.