COLUMBIA — On Saturday, the Rock Bridge and Hickman baseball teams will start district tournament play. Win or go home. For each team, every game from Saturday forward will be the season’s most important.
Still, while its clear the Bruins and Kewpies are already thinking about Saturday, there’s a good chance they will be distracted tonight.
The rivals meet at 6 p.m. tonight at Rock Bridge to close out the regular season. As is tradition, both teams will honor their seniors before the game, even though Hickman won’t be on its home field.
A month ago at Hickman, the Kewpies (6-10) had a chance to beat the Bruins. Hickman had the winning run at third base in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings but couldn’t push it across. Rock Bridge finally won in 10 innings.
“We had opportunities there to win the game,” Hickman coach Bobby Chick said. “…It’s sometimes hard to swallow how we lost the game.”
Rock Bridge (13-13) coach Justin Towe said he doesn’t think either team deserved to win or lose the first game. He said the team that controls its emotions first usually wins in Rock Bridge-Hickman games.
The Bruins will be the No. 1 seed in the District 10 tournament that starts Saturday, while Hickman is No. 3. Although tonight’s game doesn’t have any impact on postseason seeding, both teams could use a win.
“You just like to get some momentum, is what it amounts to,” Towe said. “We’ve been so streaky. It’d be nice to have a good taste in our mouth going into Saturday.”
The Bruins have been streaky all right. They’ve had an eight-game winning streak and an eight-game losing streak, which began after they beat Hickman on April 16.
Hickman has been streaky within individual games. Chick said the Kewpies still have not played a complete game. One game in particular highlights Hickman’s problem. On April 18, the Kewpies faced Parkway South, then ranked fourth in the state. Hickman had a 10-2 lead heading into the last inning. After several pitching changes, a handful of walks and a walk-off grand slam, the Kewpies lost 12-10.
No telling if tonight’s game will be as dramatic, but it won’t feel like just another game.
“Both schools, all the kids know each other,” Towe said. “There’s no bad animosity. It’s a fun time. All the parents know each other and have known each other since the kids started playing T-ball. We get all the senior parents from both sides on the field and go through a little ceremony.
“…It’s just one of those games, it’s fun to be a part of.”