By John Miller (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Springfield, Mo. – One day after coming within a strike of elimination, the Kickapoo Chiefs are district champions.
Logan Harper tossed 3.2 scoreless innings and Kickapoo took advantage of six errors as the Chiefs got past Glendale 4-3 in the Class 5 District 11 championship game on Tuesday evening at Kickapoo High School.
“It’s just an honor to be here,” Harper said. “We’ve worked so hard since October just to be here. We’ve competed every pitch in every game. It’s a blessing that we got this far. We worked together as a team. It’s amazing.”
Kickapoo has now won district championships in three of the last four seasons, including back-to-back years. They’ll face Carthage on May 22 in the Class 5 sectional round.
“This group has kind of waited their turn,” Kickapoo coach Jason Howser said. “We’ve been very, very blessed to have a lot of talent. This group was very patient and waited their turn. This was their year. They talked about it since we started weights in the morning in October. They got an opportunity to play for it on their own right and took advantage, so I was extremely proud of our senior class … great team effort.”
Glendale held a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning when Garrett Reid belted a double off the fence in right field, scoring Trey Kelley and Joey Morris. Harper took it from there. The senior retired 11 of 13 batters he faced, with one of the exceptions reaching safely on a dropped outfield pop up.
“I was using the fastball inside,” Harper said. “They just couldn’t square it up. I just kept getting ground balls, pop ups … the curveball outside, also. They were popping it up a lot.”
Harper pitched in relief of David Senn, who was chased in the fourth after surrendering three earned runs on three hits.
“Logan is so steady,” Howser said. “Nothing ever gets him too up or too down. He just stays even keeled, and he pounds the zone. He was able to come in, hit his locations, mix in enough off-speed pitches, and keep a real good offensive team at bay.”
Glendale struggled to play catch most of the afternoon, committing errors in five of seven innings. Of Kickapoo’s four runs, only two were earned.
“We finally got the ball out of the air and made them make plays, that put a little pressure on them,” Howser said.
The Falcons did flash some leather. Brett Henry crashed into the centerfield fence in the third inning to secure an out. Jack Hamlin made a leaping catch at the fence in the fifth, robbing a potential two-run homer from Mason Auer.
Max Elmer went 2-for-4 for Glendale. Ty Wilmsmeyer pitched all seven innings, allowing only five hits and two earned. He struck out four but was hung with the loss.
Kickapoo 0 1 0 1 2 0 0 4 5 0
Glendale 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 3 6 6
WP – Harper
LP – Wilmsmeyer
Kickapoo: Salyers, Reid (2B), Reasoner, McCarville, Quackenbush
Glendale: Elmer 2, Wilmsmeyer (2B), Paschke (2B), Glenn, Henry