By Angie Brushwood (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Walnut Grove, MO – The Walnut Grove Tigers claimed their second consecutive district title with a 12-1 win over the Lockwood Tigers.
Thanks to Ryan Keith (senior), they did it with a bang—a walk-off 4-run grand slam over the fence in the 5th and final inning.
Keith had already helped Walnut Grove by striking out nine tigers in five innings. He held Lockwood to four hits.
With the bases loaded in the fifth, Keith saw his chance to shut down Lockwood for good.
“I knew the bases were loaded and we were getting ready to win, so I figured I’d swing as hard as I could,” said Keith. “I made contact, so it was great.”
Walnut Grove coach Trevor Bowling knew something great might happen with Keith at bat when it mattered most.
“Ryan has come up big for us all year long. He’s hitting .500, he’s our ace, he does everything for us,” said Bowling. “He came up big for us on the mound, and I expected him to come up big for us in that spot.”
Walnut Grove opened strong, scoring four runs in the bottom of the 1st, 4-0. In the third, three forced runs and a run by Gavin Fortner gave Walnut Grove an 8-0 lead.
Lockwood’s Kane Cooper hit an RBI double in the fourth, scoring Paxton Maskoon, 8-1. But that would be the only run for Lockwood.
Dawson Meinders (senior) reflected on what the district championship means for Walnut Grove’s seniors.
“Not a lot of people expected us to be here. It was a really big game for us seniors because a lot of talent left behind us. We really wanted to prove what we could do as a unit.”
Walnut Grove (18-5) will face Verona in sectionals. Coach Trevor Bowling is optimistic about the Tigers’ chances.
“I don’t know much about them, but I can guarantee we’re going to be prepared.”
Dylan Gallup pitched 2 2/3 innings for Lockwood, pitching 3 strikeouts. Zaide Rice pitched the remaining 2 1/3, with 2 strikeouts.
1 2 3 4 5
Lockwood (9-10) 0 0 0 1 0 1
Walnut Grove (17-5) 4 0 4 0 4 12
Ryan Keith, 2 runs, 5 RBI
Jon Smith, 1 run
Zach Hejna, 2 runs
Dawson Meinders, 2 runs, 3 RBI
Michael Stogsdill, 2 runs, 1 RBI
Gavin Fortner, 1 RBI
Lane Holman, 1 run, 1 RBI
AJ Ortiz, 1 RBI
Tyler Davis, 1 run
Calvin Smith, 1 run
Paxton Masterson, 1 run
Kane Cooper, 1 RBI