By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
BLUE SPRINGS – The trouble with the curve?
For the East Union Urchins, a simple curve ball and strike out turned into trouble Friday as the Baldwyn Bearcats scored two runs on the play to take a 2-1 victory.
The improbable two-run play in the top of the seventh inning delivered the Division 1-2A championship to the Bearcats, and the No. 1 seed from the division, and a bye in the Class 2A tournament.
“This is one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen happen,” Baldwyn first-year head coach Shannon Smith said. “We finally had a break go our way against these guys.
“After not making the playoffs last year, this is a special group of guys with their work ethic.”
In a pitching duel between East Union senior Cody Dillard and Baldwyn junior Dustin Kirk, the Urchins (14-10, 8-2) put a run on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth inning. After an error then a single by Trey Davis, and with two outs, Tyler Hutcheson poked a curve ball into right field to give East Union a 1-0 lead.
Then came the seventh inning, where Baldwyn (14-4, 9-1) loaded the bases with one out on singles by Tucker Jenkins and Kirk, and an error. Following a fly out to left, Dillard got Baldwyn batter Ryan Wesson to swing on a curve ball in front of the plate for the potential final out of the contest.
But the ball rolled free allowing one run to score, and a throw to first base ended up in right field allowing a second run to cross the plate.
Kirk, who only allowed three hits, set East Union down in order in the bottom of the seventh.
“It’s baseball,” East Union head coach Chris Basil said. “Baseball is one of the most humbling things you’ll do I just told the team.
“Their pitcher did a tremendous job changing speeds tonight. Our main goal is still to win the state title, but we have to have more concentration.”
East Union finishes as the No. 2 seed from the division, and opens the playoffs Friday.