The Class 2 District 8 championship game on Wednesday night in Shelbina lasted seven innings, but the right to advance to the state playoffs was decided in just the second frame.
Scotland County took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Cordie Kigar reached on an error to start the frame. He stole second base and moved into scoring position when Andrew Mathes, who walked, was erased on a fielder’s choice ground out at second base. Ben Shannan delivered a bloop single into right field to plate the game’s first run.
Schuyler County answered in the bottom of the frame, taking advantage of a walk and an SCR-I error to score an unearned run against starter Harley Stone.
The second frame was the difference maker.
The Tigers loaded the bases with no outs. Brice Cowell reached on an infield single. Brock Bondurant doubled to the right- center field gap. Tyler Buford reached on a fielder’s choice, as the Rams tried to catch Cowell off third base on a ground ball, but failed.
However, Schuyler starter Jordon Wheeler answered the challenge. He struck out Kigar and Drew Miller before retiring Mathes on a ground out to preserve the 1-1 tie and gain the momentum.
Schuyler County went on to score three runs in the bottom of the inning, all with just one base hit. A leadoff walk and an error set the rally in motion. A hit batsman loaded the bases with one out. SCR-I looked like it might get out of the inning, but was unable to turn a double play. An error on the play let two runs score. Two more walks forced in the third run of the inning.
SCR-I threatened in the fourth inning. Cowell singled. He was erased on a fielder’s choice by Bondurant. A single by Buford put runners at the corner with just one out. But Wheeler snagged a sharp line drive back up the middle and doubled up Buford at first to end the threat.
Shannan took over on the mound in the third inning, and Schuyler County never mounted another scoring threat.
Scotland County trimmed the deficit to 4-2 in the fifth inning. Mathes walked. With two outs, Shannan singled him to third. Blessing reached on an error, allowing Mathes to score, but Shannan was gunned down going to third base to end the rally.
Down to its last out in the seventh, the Tigers made things interesting. Mathes walked and Stone singled before Shannan delivered an RBI single to plate Mathes. But with runners at second and third, Wheeler was able to strike out the final batter to preserve the 4-3 win.
Stone was tagged with the loss. All four runs were unearned in his two innings of work courtesy of three SCR-I errors. He allowed just one hit, but walked four and hit a batter while striking out four.
Shannan allowed just two hits and no runs in four innings of relief work. He walked none and struck out seven.
Wheeler was the winning pitcher, working in and out of trouble all evening. He gave up three runs, one earned, on eight hits. He walked three and struck out five.
Shannan went 3-4 with a pair of RBIs at the plate. Cowell was 2-3 and Bondurant and Buford were both 1-3. Mathes was 0-1 at the plate, but walked three times and scored two runs.