The Missouri Bulls 18u team, fresh off last weekends St. Louis tournament win, went 5-0 this weekend at Western Kentucky University and won the Mid America World Series over some good baseball programs.
The Bulls traveled to Bowling Green Kentucky, the site of this years Mid America "East" World Series. After a four hour drive and a quick change in the parking lot for many of the players, the Bulls took on the St. Louis Sting 18u team in the first of two pool games Friday to determine which four teams would advance to the weekends championship bracket.
"Nothing like leaving early in the morning, driving almost five hours, getting out of the car and playing a double header at two different fields," said coach Todd Pennington. "That's summer baseball, you go where the college coaches will be and there were a bunch on hand this weekend at WKU."
The drive didn't seem to affect the Bulls in game #1 which was played at Allen County high school's new field. The pride of Kennett, Missouri, Adam Grantham, who is still being courted by the Atlanta Braves was asked to start and pitch the first couple innings as scouts watched. He didn't disappoint as he threw two scoreless innings, allowing no hits, walking one and striking out three. He gave way to Anna Jonesboro's Tyler Vaughn with the score knotted at zero.
The Bulls offense came to life in the top of the 3rd when Kyle Campbell doubled down the left field line to drive in a speedy Alex Heuring to put the Bulls up 1-0. After a walk to Kody Moore, Danny Lockhert roped a ball over the centerfielder's head scoring both Campbell and Moore before he was gunned out at 3rd giving the Bulls a 3-0 lead.
The Sting scored one in their half of the 3rd but that was all Vaughn would allow as he settled down and got into a rhythm.
The Bulls got a two run homer from Sikeston's Trent McMillan and a solo home run from Grantham as the Bulls went on to win 9-1 in a run ruled shortened game.
Adam Grantham picked up the win and Tyler Vaughn got the save.
From there the Bulls jumped in cars and drove 45 minutes to Western Kentucky University to play their second game of the double header. They would take on a very talented Racine Hitters club that boasted 11 Division I players on their 22 man roster, going to colleges like LSU, Vandy, Louisville, Virginia and Iowa to name a few.
Sikeston's Trey Tigart was given the nod and as he has done all summer he delivered.
Racine took the lead in the top of the second as Tigart was finidng his groove. Although he only gave up one run, the inning would have been a lot worse if not for the leadoff batter being gunned down at second attempting to steal by Alex Heuring. "That was as good a throw as I've seen," said Tigart. " The kid was a burner and Alex put the throw on the bag to Lockhert and got him by three feet."
The Bulls got all they would need in the bottom half of the second. They put up a five spot on five hits and a Racine error. Vaughn doubled, Heuring singled, Dirnberger singled in Vaughn to make it 1-0. Landewee was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Campbell who hit a sharp ground ball past the short stop for an error but two runs scored. Lockhert then doubled in Campbell and Grantham singled in Lockhert and the Bulls led 5-0 after two.
Tigart would set down the next nine Racine batters in order in the 3rd, 4th and 5th innings and the Bulls would tack on another run to make it 6-1 after five.
The only other threat from Racine was a lead off double in the sixth. The runner was at 3rd base with one out when Tigart got the next batter on a fly ball to center field, the runner tagged from 3rd and tried to score but was gunned down by Grantham on a nice play on an in between hop and tag by Heuring. "It's fun pitching when you have this kind of team," Tigart said. My defense was great today like they've been all year so I just fill up the strike zone, avoid walks and try to keep the batters off balance as much as possible."
Tigart finished with a complete game seven inning victory, allowing only the one run, scattering eight hits and a walk while striking out four. True to what Trey said, he has struck out 22 batters and walked only three in 36 innings of work for the Bulls this summer. He has a 5-1 record with one save. His ERA is a miniscule 1.17 as he has only allowed 8 total runs and six earned. His WHIP is an amazing 0.78 for the Bulls.
The 7-1 win over Racine gave the Bulls the #2 seed and meant that they would play all of their games the rest of the weekend at Western Kentucky's stadium.
Saturday's first game in the championship bracket was against Central Alabama. This team was comprised of kids from Birmingham and the surrounding areas.
The Bulls jumped on top as they had done all weekend scoring three runs in the bottom of the first. Miller, Vaughn, Grantham and Scott all had singles in the inning.
Sammy Stearns, Carterville high schools ace, took the mound for the Bulls. Like all the Bulls starters the last two weeks, Sammy was outstanding. Stearns kept the Central Alabama team scoreless through five innings while the Bulls built a 4-0 lead.
In the sixth inning the Bulls defense had a few rare miscues and Stearns was in a little trouble, as an error, a hit batter and an error loaded the bases with no outs. The next batter singled and it was a 4-2 game. Stearns then struck out the next batter, walked another to load the bases again before enducing a ground ball 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
Brady Wright came into the game in the top of the seventh to close the deal and give the Bulls their third win of the weekend, he did just that. Wright struck out the side hitting 88mph a few times on the radar gun on the center field scoreboard, rarely dipping below 85. "My arm feels great, it's the first time in many summers that I wans't at football camp during the week throwing 200 balls a day," Wright said.
With the win the Bulls got a break until 4:30pm when they faced the Evansville Wolfpack. Adam Pennington was on the mound in this game. A win would have the Bulls at 4-0 and in the Championship game with someone having to beat them twice.
Pennington set down the side in order in the first and as they did all weekend, the Bulls jumped out to an early lead.
Campbell was drilled on an 0-2 fastball that dropped him to his knees to start the game, Lockhert then walked, Kody Moore laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third with one out. Brady Wright grounded into a fielder's choice to score the first run and Grantham doubled in the second run as the Bulls took a 2-0 lead.
Pennington held the Wolfpack scoreless through four innings but the Bulls lead was cut in half in the top of the 5th on a double steal. In the bottom of the 5th the Bulls answered and when Pennington left after five innings the Bulls were up 3-1. Pennington gave up only one run on three hits, walked two and struck out five.
The Bulls brought in Brady Wright once again to see if he could continue his string of scoreless relief work. Wright allowed one hit over the final two innings and recorded his second save of the weekend as the Bulls won 4-1 and had the night off to wait and see who they'd face in the Championship game Sunday at 11am. "Adam pitched well and I just wanted to make sure he got the win," Wright said.
The Bulls sent hard throwing Adam Grantham to the mound on Sunday. "We wanted to come out strong and avoid a second game if at all possible," said coach Todd Pennington. "We still had lots of arms left but felt Adam gave us the best chance."
Grantham was true to form. Even though he didn't have his best stuff, he battled through five innings, giving up no runs, walking two and striking out six. He was helped by some nice defensive plays and left after five with the Bulls clinging to a 2-0 lead.
Kody Moore came into the game in the sixth to try and hold the lead for the Bulls. He gave up a lead off walk, then a single. The next batter hit a ball that was bobbled and when the dust had settled the score was tied at 2 with runners on 1st and second with two outs.
In came Wright again for the third straight day to shut the door. He got the first batter to fly out to keep the score 2-2.
The Bulls first two batters reached in the bottom of the sixth but a double play made it a runner on 3rd with two outs. In stepped Scott City's Brett Dirnberger or "Dirns" as his teammates call him. He took a 1-0 pitch through the right side for a single and gave the Bulls the lead 3-2.
Wright came out in the seventh and for the first time all weekend was in some trouble as Dayton had runners on second and third with one out. With the infield playing in, Sammy Stearns made a spectacular play robbing a base hit, getting the out at first and the runner couldn't advance. Wright got the last batter to ground back to the mound and the celebration began.
The Bulls were the dark horse going into the weekend but turned a few heads by the time Sunday afternoon arrived.
"To come here and go 5-0 is incredible, " said Glenn Campbell president of the Lids Missouri Bulls. 'We outscored our opponents 27-7 and our pitchers gave up only 5 earned runs the entire weekend."
"I think the fact that we've used wood bats in four of our five weekends this summer really helped us out," said Kody Campbell, the former SEMO standout who is helping Todd Pennington coach the Bulls.
The Bulls head this weekend to play in the Top Prospect, Diamond Sports tournament in Bloomington Illinois, winners of their last two tournaments and 12 of their last 13 games.