By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Seymour, Mo. — Looks like Seymour has taken a liking to postseason play.
After defeating Mansfield to win its first-ever district title, Seymour followed up the milestone victory with a 3-2 upset over No. 3 Purdy in Monday’s sectional round.
Nathaniel Hosiner’s RBI double broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning and placed the final three outs in Carson Sturdefant’s hands.
Sturdefant proved up to the task.
After relieving starter Brady Brooke in the sixth inning, the junior right-hander worked a 1-2-3 seventh to seal the victory and propel the Tigers into the quarterfinal round.
Seymour head coach Jason Duey praised Sturdefant’s fierce competitive nature during the biggest of moments.
“Carson, obviously, doesn’t lack for confidence,” Duey said. “He’s just going to get up there and throw it. I think one of the best things about Carson is that he just gets there. Whatever the moment is, he’s going to love being it it and just do what he does.”
The Tigers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning on RBIs from Sturdefant and Hosiner.
On the mound, Brooke was able to keep the dangerous Purdy lineup at bay.
Despite not having everything in his arsenal working for him, Brooke was able to continue battling through the innings.
The senior right-hander struck out eight and allowed only three hits on the afternoon.
“I knew I had defenders behind me that could field it as long as I threw strikes,” Brooke said.
In the third inning, Purdy finally found an opening with a pair RBIs from Andres Aldaba and Clay Henderson.
With the score tied at 2-2, the Eagles seemed poised to steal the game’s momentum; however, Brooke settled in and retired seven of the next nine hitters.
In the sixth, Brooke’s count reached the 105-pitch limit, and Duey was forced to make the change.
“Brady was disappointed,” Duey said. “I said, ‘Brady, we’re in the sixth inning against a very, very, very good team — and it’s a tie ballgame.’”
As he headed to the mound in relief, Sturdefant recalled an opposing pitcher’s interview quote from the previous season and four words, in particular, that stuck with him …
They’re not touching me.
“I just felt so confident,” Sturdefant said. “I was, like, I’m going to have that same mindset. I’m going to go out there, throw strikes and get our team to the next level.”
Sturdefant notched a pair of strikeouts to get Seymour out of the inning and set the stage for Hosiner’s heroics.
The sophomore infielder connected on a 2-1 pitch and laced a one-out liner into center for the eventual game-winner.
“If it was over the strike zone, I was going to try my hardest to hit it,” Hosiner said. “I was a fastball, pretty much piped, and was very thankful that he gave it to me. To be able to do that for my team, it’s just a dream come true.”
After the game, Duey was quick to note his team’s timely hitting in big spots, something that had been missing for much of the season.
“We’ve struggled with that all fall and spring, where we get lots of guys on and just can’t get a big hit,” Duey said. “We’ve kind of joked all spring that we’re just saving them up for the end. [Hosiner] just did a great job of stepping up and delivering something huge.”
For Purdy and head coach Joshua Hughes, the disappointing finish doesn’t negate a successful season — the Eagles finish with a 24-2 record.
“I thought we played well,” Hughes said. “I didn’t think we hit the ball as well as we possibly could, but you’ve got to give credit to their pitchers. They kind of bent a little bit, but they didn’t break. It hurts, but we’ll move on. I’ve got guys now that, I think, have summer games tomorrow night, so we’ll be right back at it.”
Up next for Seymour is a quarterfinal round matchup against either Liberal or Marion C. Early.
“They continue to work, continue to push and continue to believe,” Duey said. “And, so, here we are.”
Class 2 Sectional Final: Seymour – 3, Purdy – 2
Purdy 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 — 2
Seymour 2 0 0 0 0 1 x — 3
Hits: Purdy – 3, Seymour – 4
Errors: Purdy – 0, Seymour – 0
LOB: Purdy – 4, Seymour – 3
2B: Purdy (Andres Aldaba – 1), Seymour (Carson Sturdefant – 1, Nathaniel Hosiner – 1)
RBI: Purdy (Aldaba – 1, Clay Henderson – 1), Seymour (Hosiner – 2, Sturdefant – 1)
Zane Brown (6.00 IP, 6K, 4H, 1BB, 1HBP)
Brady Brooke (5.33 IP, 8K, 3H, 3BB)
Carson Sturdefant (1.67 IP, 3K, 0H, 1BB)
Time of game: 1:42