By John Miller
Ozark, Mo. – If Friday’s performance was any indication, the Galena Bears have found a solid starting pitcher in Luke Burk.
The sophomore righty tossed six and one-thirds of three-hit baseball against two-time defending Class 1 state champion Bell City, leading the Bears to an 8-3 win at U.S. Baseball Park in Ozark.
If not for the new pitch count rules, Burk probably would’ve gone the distance. He finished with 93 pitches, two below the limit for a sophomore.
“I just wanted to attack hitters with fastballs,” said Burk, “keep the ball down, and keep them from getting it in the air. The team behind me made some good plays and kept us in it.”
Of the three runs he allowed, only one was earned. He struck out five and walked only three.
“He competed,” Galena coach Byron Richardson said. “He threw strikes and kept guys off the bases. There were only a couple innings where he really was stressed at all. I’m pretty happy with that performance for as young as he is, because he hasn’t been on the mound too much for us yet.”
Galena (8-1) used a pair of four-run innings to take command. Bell City starting pitcher Bobby Wright struggled with his command, walking 11 batters in three and two-thirds innings. He walked in three runs in the second inning and two more in the fourth. Galena scored four runs in each frame.
“We’ve done a better job here of late of working at bats, trying to see some pitches, and find ways to get on base, be smart up at the plate,” Richardson said. “I would have liked to have seen us step up and get another big hit or two, but besides that, I was pretty happy.”
Bell City, playing its third game in two days and its second on Friday, scored first on Friday. Cole Nichols led the game off with a single, stole second, went to third on a passed ball, and then scored on Hicks’ RBI single. Hicks’ hit was Bell City’s last until the sixth.
They did add two runs in the fourth, taking advantage of two walks and two errors from Galena in the frame. The Bears finished with four errors for the game.
“We had a few errors that we need to clean up a little bit,” Richardson said, “but besides that, I thought we did a nice job of finding ways to get guys on and scoring a few runs when we had opportunities.”
Nichols and Hicks each went 2-for-4 for Bell City. Dallas Besperat went 3-for-4 at the plate for Galena.