By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Springfield, MO — Not many pundits expected Glendale to challenge for another Ozark Conference title this season.
After losing nine letterman and head coach Mike Snodgrass in 2017, it wasn’t exactly a stretch to say this season would be challenging for the Falcons.
Those challenges turned out to be opportunities.
Glendale shut out Rolla 6-0 Wednesday afternoon for its 20th victory and fourth-straight conference title. The victory marks the program’s 15th overall conference championship.
After spending the past nine seasons in Forsyth, Falcons head coach Jim Julian praised his team for its perseverance and positive attitude.
“You’re always striving for goals, and [a conference title] was one of them,” Julian said. “I don’t know if a lot people outside our clubhouse felt we could accomplish that — much less 20 wins and a No. 1 seed in districts — but I’m proud of the guys and happy for them.”
Facing a formidable Rolla lineup, Glendale ace Ethan Paschke was dominant on the mound. The senior right-hander allowed only a pair of hits in a seven-inning shutout.
“Ethan threw a great game,” Julian said. “He pitched well at Lebanon and got the win there but didn’t have the command that he’s had. He wanted the ball and was really excited to get back up on the mound today. He did a great job getting ahead and mixing it up.”
The Glendale bats got things going early in the first inning, when Thomas Brand drove in Max Elmer for the game’s first score.
Despite loading the bases in each of the first two innings, the Falcons were unable to plate more than a single run off Rolla starter Treyton Ruth.
“We left six on in the first two innings,” Julian said. “But you can’t get frustrated — it’s a long game. I just told the guys, ‘Keep the same approach, keep trying to hit the ball hard and keep getting baserunners on and, eventually, you’re going to break through.’”
Glendale didn’t have to wait long.
Luke Parrish led off the fifth inning with a double off the wall, and a pair of bunt singles from Timmy Glenn and Jack Hamlin brought Parrish in for the Falcons’ second run of the game.
After a walk to Max Elmer loaded the bases for a third time, junior Ty Wilmsmeyer broke the game open with a 2-run single off Bulldogs reliever Levi Loughridge.
“I was watching him warmup, and it looked like he had a pretty good curveball,” Wilmsmeyer said. “He showed it to me the second pitch of the at-bat, and it fell off the table pretty good. I knew he would probably come back to that curveball, so I was sitting on it. I got it down and was able to poke it into left center.”
Elmer and Wilmsmeyer then scored Glendale’s fourth and fifth runs of the inning on an errant throw from the outfield and passed ball, respectively.
By the time the dust settled at home plate, the Falcons had a commanding 6-0 lead that would not be relinquished.
“We got the bases loaded again and finally got one of those balls to get through the infield,” Julian said. “Ty’s just a great hitter. He shortened up his swing knowing we just had to put something in play, and he’s a good enough hitter to be able to do that for us.”
After the initial onslaught, Loughridge settled down and got the Bulldogs out of the inning with three-straight strikeouts.
Despite the loss, Rolla head coach Marty Hauck was pleased, for the most part, with his team’s performance.
“I think the pitching was fine,” Hauck said. “We gave up more hits than, obviously, anyone would like to see, but at the same time, I think the pitchers did well. Levi came in and shut the door down. He’s not a reliever, so to put him in that spot with bases loaded, that probably wasn’t the best situation to put him in, but he was the right guy, obviously, to put in. He turned around and shut them down.”
Hauck talked about the difficulties in not only dealing with a hot pitcher on the mound in Paschke, but a slew of rally-killing defensive plays from Glendale, as well.
Right fielder Thomas Brand and center fielder Brett Henry each made diving plays to rob the Bulldogs of potential extra-base hits in the second inning.
“We made some mistakes, but hats off to [Paschke],” Hauck said. “He did a great job on the mound and kept us to two hits. The defense behind him played phenomenal. Will Bolyard hits a double — nice shot. Turn around, and Blaize Klossner hits one in the gap. [Henry] comes and makes a diving play. Two hits ain’t going to win many games in high school.”
With both teams now moving on to district play, Hauck was quick to put things into perspective.
“We’re 0-0 right now; all this was practice up until this point in time,” Hauck said. “This one’s going to burn tonight, but by tomorrow, I told the boys we’ve got to turn the page and start over. It’s a one-game playoff, and we can’t come into the ballpark like we did today.
Both teams are set to begin postseason play. As the No. 1 seed in District 11, Glendale (20-7) awaits the winner of Nixa and West Plains in the Tuesday, May 14 semifinal round to be played at Kickapoo. Rolla (20-6-1) faces Central in the opening round of District 10 tournament on Saturday, May 12, at Hillcrest.
Glendale – 6, Rolla – 0
Rolla 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0
Glendale 1 0 0 5 0 0 x — 6
Hits: Rolla – 2, Glendale – 9
Errors: Rolla – 2, Glendale – 2
LOB: Rolla – 5, Glendale – 8
Ethan Paschke (7.00 IP, 9K, 2H, 1BB, 1HBP)
Treyton Ruth (3.00 IP, 7K, 8H, 2BB)
Levi Loughridge (3.00 IP, 4K, 2H, 0BB, 1HBP)
Time of game: 1:51