SEDALIA — It is heartbreaking enough to lose one championship game. Columbia Post 202 lost two of them.
The Blue Springs A’s foiled Post 202’s two chances to win the American Legion state championship, winning 11-6 and 11-10 on Saturday at Liberty Park.
Because Post 202 was the only undefeated team left in the tournament entering Saturday’s games, it had two chances to win the title in the double elimination format.
It lost the first game in 11 innings and the second game in the bottom of the ninth on an errant pickoff attempt.
With the second game tied at 10 in the ninth, Post 202 pitcher Kyle Smith faced runners on the corners with two outs. Ben Malick, the Blue Springs runner on first, took off for second and Smith wheeled around, faked the throw to second, then threw to third to catch Travis Crutcher off the base. Smith threw too low, and the ball rolled deep into foul territory as Crutcher crossed the plate for the winning run.
“Kyle ran the play pretty good, and we may have had a shot there at third,” Post 202 coach Jim Dapkis said.
“It’s a bad feeling to lose; it’s a worse feeling to lose on a play like that. You feel really bad for Kyle, because he pitched his butt off today.”
After losing two late leads in Game 1, Post 202 lost two early ones in Game 2.
Blue Springs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of Game 2, but Post 202 stormed back in the third inning, scoring seven runs.
Johnny Kruse led off with a triple to the gap in right center. Smith followed with an RBI single, and Jake Kemper tied the game with a double that scored Smith. Dunwoody’s RBI single scored Kemper and gave Post 202 a 3-2 lead.
Post 202 added four more runs on Jonathan Tallmage’s sacrifice fly, Kruse’s two-run double, and another RBI single by Smith for a 7-2 lead. Post 202 sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning.
The A’s scored five runs in the bottom half of the third, though, chasing starting pitcher Ryan Concannon.
Dapkis said that pitching changes forced him to play a different lineup than he would have liked.
“It was a little bit of a bind,” he said. “Any time you take Kyle and Ryan, it puts you in a really difficult situation, because someone has to come out.”
Post 202 snatched back the lead in the fourth, as Tallmage’s two-run single and Kruse’s RBI double put it ahead 10-7, but Blue Springs evened the score with a run in the bottom of the fourth and two in the sixth.
Blue Springs rallies also highlighted Game 1. The A’s rebounded from two late deficits to force extra innings. The A’s broke the game open in the 11th with five-runs.
Game 1 starter Josh Terry entered the seventh inning with a 4-1 lead, but the A’s tied it up with Brad Davidson’s three-run home run.
Blue Springs added a run in the eighth, but Post 202 rallied in the eighth when Smith hit a two-run double to give Columbia a 6-5 lead.
Consecutive errors by Kemper at third base put runners on first and second in the ninth. Davidson, the leadoff man, stole third, and scored one batter later on a 6-4-3 double play.
“The infield’s pretty hard, and you get some pretty rough bounces out there, but you can’t blame the field,” Kemper said. “You’ve got to make some plays.”
Terry appeared to tire late in a game in which he threw around 120 pitches. He was pulled after walking the first batter in the 10th.
“The last couple of times (Terry) has pitched, he’s gone the full distance, but he’s such a competitor.” Dapkis said.
“Even in the ninth inning, he got two balls hit that probably should’ve been out. He did his job, he got ground balls, but we didn’t make the plays.”
While Post 202 was disappointed, Dapkis said there has been much success to enjoy.
“We got hot at the absolute right time. It’s one of those things where hopefully they can enjoy this five or 10 years down the road,” he said.