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Bulls 18's Finish season strong in Joplin

07/30/2012, 2:10pm CDT
By gc

Grantham's "No Hitter" caps another successful summer season for Bulls


The Missouri Bulls 18u ended their season on a high note as they won their last two games allowing one hit in those two wins.

The Bulls 18u team headed to Joplin for their final tournament of the summer.  It was a Mid America USA event that turned into just a 12 team showcase but had some very good teams involved and many college coaches present.

The Bulls faced NBA out of Kansas City in game #1 Thursday afternoon.  Tyler Vaughn took the mound and pitched well allowing four runs, three earned, walking four and striking out three over 5 1/3 innings.   He left with a 5-2 lead and runners on 1st and 2nd base.  In came closer, Brady Wright who recorded an out but was touched up for a triple that tied the game at five. 

The Bulls took the lead in the top of the 9th but Jordan Miller was unable to hold the lead as he hit a batter and walked a batter to start the 9th.  He gave way to sophmore Gavin O'Brien from Sikeston who pitched out of a jam.  The only run allowed in the inning was unearned on a throwing error.

Offensively the Bulls had 11 hits, two each from Campbell, Lockhert, Grantham and Wright.  Ramsey Scott added a hit and three runs batted in.

The game ended in a tie 6-6 but overall not a bad start to the weekend.

The Bulls ran into one of the better teams they've played all summer, Midwest Nationals 17u Scout team in the second game of their double header.  Trey Tigart took the mound looking for his 8th win of the summer vs only one loss.

The Bulls were never in the game as they showed signs of a six hour car ride and a nine inning game right before.  "I just didn't have it today," said Tigart.  "I couldn't keep the ball down in the zone consistently and they made me pay for it."

Tigart went 2 2/3 giving up 12 runs, seven earned, on 11 hits and a walk.  Justin Landewee who hasn't seen the mound much this summer came in and shut the door in the 3rd and the 4th as the Bulls tried mounting a comeback.

The Bulls were down 12-4 and had a chance to get back in the game but Midwest brought in their closer and shut the door for a 12-4 win.

Game 3 was held at the old minor league stadium, Joe Becker Field in Joplin.   The Bulls faced an Andy Benes coached Rawlings prospect team.  Although they were all from the class of 2014, they weren't short of talent.  "We are a pretty talented bunch and we threw our best guy at them," said Benes.  "Brady is a hot commodity right now and has many schools interested in him, great kid with a huge upside."

Coach Benes was referring to his ace, Brady Feigl, soon to be a junior at Parkway Central, HS.  The 6'4" 185lb right hander was as good as advertised.  He pitched well allowing three runs, two earned over 6 innings.  He struck out five and walked four.

Sammy Stearns was equally impressive for the Bulls.  He went the distance pitching six innings allowing five runs, four earned, striking out four and walking only two.

The Bulls had many chances to win this game but had a couple guys thrown out on the bases and just couldn't get the timely hit they needed.

"Their pitchers were good but we made some mistakes in the field and on the bases that cost us," said Todd Pennington Bulls Head Coach.

In the end the Prospects won 5-3 in a good game in front of about 15 college coaches who left impressed by players from both sides.

The Bulls woke up Saturday 0-2-1 with two games left in their season and a little sense of urgency.  "We wanted to end the summer on a good note", said Brady Wright.  "For a few of us this was the last time we'll ever lace up our cleats for the Bulls and we wanted to get two wins."

That sense of urgency showed as the Bulls finally got their bats going in the first game.  The Bulls, missing a few players, decided to call up a couple players from their 16u team, Gavin O'Brien from Sikeston and Josh Haggerty from Notre Dame, both will be juniors this coming year.  

"We have some very talented young players in our organization at the 15u and 16u level and we wanted to give them a chance to showcase their skills a little on a bigger stage", said Pennington.

Coach Pennington threw them both into the fire as O'Brien got the nod to start the first game Saturday vs Midwest Nationals Red team.   O'Brien pitched four scoreless innings, striking out four and walking two and left with the Bulls leading 6-0 thanks to Scott City's Brett Dirnberger.

"Dirns", as his teamates call him was hot with the bat all weekend.  He went 2-3 vs the Nationals with a double, home run and two runs batted in.

Josh Haggerty entered the game and was equally impressive on the mound.  The two sophmores had a combined "no hitter" through the first 6 1/3 innings as the Bulls held a 7-0 lead.  The only blemish of the day was a one out single to center in the top of the 7th.  A throwing error by the catcher plated the only unearned run of the game for the Nationals and the Bulls won the game 7-1. 

Haggerty ended the day with three innings pitched, one hit, one unearned run, a walk and three strikeouts.

The final game of the tournament and of the season was against a very talented Minnesota Starz team.  The Bulls sent Adam Grantham to the mound in his last game as a Missouri Bulls player.  "It was pretty emotional knowing this was the last game I would play for the Bulls," Grantham said.  He made sure that it would be one to remember.

Neither team could get a run across, the Bulls had more chances than the Starz but credit good pitching for the lack of offense.

Grantham's teamates could smell something special in the fourth inning as they started to whisper amongst themsleves in the dugout.  "We knew his curveball was nasty and we were making some plays defensively so we started saying stuff", said Kyle Campbell, playing in his last game as well for the Bulls.  "We know that is taboo in baseball but our group loves to have fun with each other so we put the pressure on Adam to do it."

Indeed his teammates had his back, Campbell made a couple defensive gems in center field, Vaughn made a great play on a slow roller to third and Landewee went up the middle to rob a base hit in the seventh inning.

"I wasn't really thinking about it at all", said Grantham.  "I knew I had good stuff and I was filling up the strike zone and the guys were playing great behind me."

Grantham knew what was at stake going to the mound in the top of the seventh though with the score tied 0-0.  "Coach Pennington told me this was my last inning regardless as he didn't want me going over 100 pitches", said Grantham.

Grantham gave up a one out walk, only the second baserunner of the day, then struck out the final batter.  His line score was seven innings pitched, No hits, two walks and nine strikeouts on 94 pitches.

"I was just hoping my teamates could score a run because I knew I was finished for the day," Grantham said.   His teammates didn't let him down.

Tyler Vaughn led off the inning with an infield single as he used his blazing speed to beat it out.  He went to second when he read a ball in the dirt.  Anna Jonesboro teammate Brady Wright did his job by moving him to third with a ground ball to the right side. 

Ramsey Scott was then walked to set up a double play.   Up to the plate stepped the Bulls hottest hitter of the weekend Brett Dirnberger.

Dirns laced a 1-0 pitch into the left field gap and the celebration began.  The Bulls won their final game 1-0 in dramatic fashion and ended the season 23-10-1. 

"A very talented group of players and a very good group of young men", said Glenn Campbell, Bulls President.  "We wish all our seniors the best as they had to college in a few weeks." 

"We thank them and their parents for what they've given to the Bulls organization the past three years."


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