SW falls to Clever in baseball sectional

Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Safe at home Photo by Stacy Stevenson Southwest's Skylar Knolls beat the throw home to score the go-ahead run during the district semi-finals against Purdy last week. The Trojans defeated three higher seeded teams to secure the district title.

The Southwest Trojans saw their baseball season end with a 5-1 loss to Clever in a Class 2, Sectional game played at Washburn on Monday afternoon. After pulling off three consecutive upsets to win a district title, the Trojans couldn't find enough magic to stay with Clever, the team that took third in last year's state competition.

Despite hosting the game, Southwest was the visiting team on the scoreboard after losing a coin toss to the Blue Jays. The Trojans struck immediately in the top of the first inning, with Ty Hackett slapping a leadoff triple and then scoring on a throwing error on the play.

Southwest's Timmy Johns reached on an error, and Tyler Ferguson's double put two runners in scoring position with no outs. But Clever's Jordan Burnett pitched out of the jam, and held the Trojans to just the one run in the inning.

The Blue Jays hung the only crooked number of the game in the bottom of the first, taking a 3-1 lead. Clever sent eight batters to the plate against Southwest's Jake Shrum in an inning highlighted by a two-run double from Ranger Curtis.

Clever added one run in both the second and third innings -- both with two outs on the scoreboard -- to create the final score of 5-1.

After scoring 15, 10, and 12 runs in their three district tournament blowout victories, the Blue Jays failed to knockout Shrum. The Southwest senior limited the potent Clever lineup to just eight hits and five runs while striking out four.

Southwest's Jordan Savage threw out two runners in the bottom of the fifth inning to ruin a two-on, no-one-out, Clever rally.

On the Clever side, Burnett gained velocity and confidence as the game wore on. He struck out nine Trojans while only allowing four hits and the single tally in the first frame.

Both teams committed one fielding error.

The Trojans finished their season at 15-8 after reaching the sectional round for just the second time in school history. Clever improved to 25-3 and will play Hartville on Wednesday night.

District champions

The Trojans claimed their second district title in three years, beating Pierce City 7-3 in last Tuesday's district championship contest at Ash Grove.

Seeded fifth in the tournament, the upstart Trojans upset Diamond, Purdy and then Pierce City to claim the second district baseball title in school history.

The Eagles jumped to a promising start in Tuesday's title game. Bo Vincent overcame a rocky start to hold Southwest to just two runs in the top of the first inning, and then the Pierce City batters benefited from Tyler Ferguson's five first-inning walks to take a 3-2 lead.

Southwest's Ty Hackett ripped the second pitch of the game into left field for a single and advanced to third base on a fielder's choice. After Vincent issued Tyler Ferguson an intentional pass, Travis Hayworth drove in the game's first run with a single. Ferguson scored on Jordan Savage's sac fly, and the Trojans led, 2-0.

Ferguson, Southwest's dependable ace, could not find the strike zone in the first inning. The Eagles scored three runs on five walks and a single by Kole Kelley and could have had more. A great leaping stab by Timmy Johns at second base robbed Michael Vincent of a hit and saved two runs.

The Trojans tied the game at 3-3 in the third inning. Ferguson struck out but advanced all the way to second base on a passed ball. Hayworth's groundball became an error in the infield, and Ferguson raced home with the tying run.

Southwest scored four runs in the top of the fourth frame to take control of the contest. Drake Douglas punched an RBI double to give the Trojans a 4-3 lead, Timmy Johns hit an RBI single with the bases loaded, and then Southwest scored on a fielder's choice and a sacrifice fly to create the 7-3 score.

Pierce City's Garron Cantwell tripled and scored on an error in the bottom of the seventh, but that was as close as the Eagles could get.

Southwest's Hayworth pitched the final four and two-thirds innings for the win. Bo Vincent took the loss for Pierce City.

The Eagles finished their season as the runner-up in Class 2 District 12 with a record of 11-11.

Southwest finished their season with a record of 15-8.

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