The weather was so nice in Columbia on Saturday, the Hickman baseball team decided to play three.
After conditions at Hickman Field were too wet to play Friday night, the Kewpies began the Sells Development/Red Weir Classic 12 hours before they finished it as champions.
Justin Jackson led the way for the No. 2 Kewpies, who beat No. 3 Vianney 4-3 for the title, with his double in the seventh inning at Rock Bridge Field.
Jackson’s winning hit against the defending state champions brought home his 10th RBI of the day.
“Outstanding,” Hickman coach Dave Wilson said. “It goes with his character and how he prepares, he’s a baseball player.”
Hickman’s championship run included an 11-1 win against Sullivan in the morning and a 9-5 afternoon win against North Kansas City.
In the nightcap, Hickman starting pitcher Zack Heath was strong for the Kewpies, allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings. Casey McIntosh entered with two outs in the sixth, stranded two base runners and pitched a scoreless seventh to record the win.
“For us to advance on, and have a chance to win a district championship, which is our No. 1 goal, you have to win games like that,” Wilson said.
Second baseman Chad Hatcher drew a one-out walk in the seventh, advanced on a pass ball and, after Blake Tekotte was intentionally walked, Hatcher scored on Jackson’s double to deep left field.
Hickman players celebrated near the third base bag, and accepted the trophy minutes later. Wilson spoke briefly to his team before the players huddled around the trophy, some jumping to touch it.
In their first game, the Kewpies beat Sullivan 11-1 in five innings, getting a quality start from Tyler Asche and spectacular hitting from cleanup man Jackson, who started this one at catcher, went 3-for-3, doubled and hit two home runs while driving in seven runs to propel Hickman to a solid start.
Appropriately it was Jackson, with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, who had a chance to put an abrupt end to the ballgame he dominated. Again, he delivered, with a sacrifice fly to centerfield, driving in Hickman’s 11th run and ending the game by virtue of the 10-run rule.
Game 2 of the tripleheader featured Hickman’s Steven Boyer matched up against North Kansas City (9-5) ace Blaine Adams.
Pitching won out and in the home half of the fifth the score was tied at 2. Then, a two-out Hickman rally, punctuated by an infield single by Andrew Mueller, yielded three runs for the Kewpies.
Once again, Jackson was the story, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, a triple, two RBIs and three runs scored and played solid defense.With one-out in the third inning and a runner on second, Jackson ranged far to his left to field a groundball cleanly. Rather than throwing to first for a routine out, Jackson faked the throw and caught the overly-aggressive runner straying too far from second. Jackson tagged him out easily.
“That’s just his instincts. I wish I could say that we talk about that all the time. But no, he’s a very instinctive kid and he probably caught that out of the corner of his eye and made a great play,” Wilson said.
Boyer recorded the win and Tekotte hit a home run in the first inning.
In total Jackson finished the day 7-for-10, hit two home runs, drove in 10 and scored five runs.
Where did Jackson rank his day?
“This is pretty much got to be No. 1,” he said. “It felt good to get that hit; intentionally walking Blake…I got to prove to people that they can’t do that.”
ROCK BRIDGE:The Bruins looked to emerge from their slump but didn’t quite live up to its expectations.
Rock Bridge lost its first two games and won its last to finish seventh in the tournament.
The Bruins fell to Owensville 7-4 on Friday and lost 3-2 to Excelsior Springs on Saturday. But they pounded Sullivan 16-5 in six innings in their last game to avoid finishing last.
Before the tournament, the Bruins had lost three straight and six of nine. But when they were beaten by Owensville (13-3) in the opening round, the Bruins knew they had to increase their effort.
In the next game, Rock Bridge led Excelsior Springs through the sixth until it collapsed in the last inning, giving up two runs.
Rock Bridge coach Terry Whitney kept a positive outlook.
“I thought our starting pitching was excellent,” he said.
Erik Darkow allowed three runs and recorded eight strikeouts in his first career complete game.
“Erik did a fantastic job,” Whitney said. “He battled the whole time.”
Darkow told a group of parents after the game, “It was my first complete game and the most pitches I’ve thrown all year.“Toward the end, I kind of ran out of gas and my arm was dragging behind,” he said. “I didn’t want to come out. I felt myself running out of gas, but there was nothing I could do.”
Despite Darkow’s impressive pitching, the Bruins were still struggling and looking for a win to lift their spirits.
“We have to find a way to win,” Whitney said after the loss to Excelsior Springs. “We need to find some way; offense, defense, whatever it is.”
The Bruins finally got back on track in their last game against Sullivan. They capitalized on Sullivan’s eight errors and ended the game early with a 10-run rule win.
— Joe Moore