Head coach Brent Rountree insists he didn’t do it by design. Still, his ejection seemed to reinvigorate a Dadeville squad that had only a few precious outs left in its season.
Dadeville rallied from an early five-run deficit, losing Rountree in the process, to earn its first trip to state baseball with a 9-8 victory at Weaubleau on Thursday night. The Bearcats will face Santa Fe in the Class 1 semifinals May 27 at 6 p.m. at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O’Fallon.
“It’s an amazing win, just shows what you can do when you can pick up a teammate and that's what we've been trying to do all year,” Rountree said.
The game took a turn for the weird, and the hostile, in the fifth inning with Dadeville trailing 8-3. Sophomore Christian Long hit an apparent three-run homer to draw the Bearcats within 8-6.
But Weaubleau protested, claiming Long didn’t touch home plate after he rounded the bases. The home plate umpire ruled in favor of the Tigers, Long was called out and the Bearcats were credited with only two runs on the play.
Rountree came unglued. He argued the ruling and was eventually ejected from the game – to a standing ovation of support from the Dadeville fans.
“It’s gonna be a matter of he-said, who can actually see the play, and the (umpire) claimed that (Long) didn't touch the plate on the home run," Rountree said. "But it's hard for me to say with my two guys standing around home plate that (Long) didn't step on top of it. I just thought there was a little bit of question in that regard on the play. I just thought it took the play away from the players."
The controversy seemed to pump new life into Dadeville, which trailed 8-5 entering the final two innings.
"The momentum just swung immediately after that," said Dadeville sophomore Zane Medley. "(Weaubleau) just shut down after that. Their crowd sat down and our crowd was standing and cheering. That was just an awesome game to be a part of."
The Bearcats chipped away with two runs in the sixth, setting the table for a walk-off win in the sixth.
With runners on second and third and one out, Dadville’s lone senior, Dusty Freeze, hit a single through the right side. Wade Coble scored to tie the game, and after Weaubleau was slow getting the ball back to the infield, Riley Obert came home to win it for the Bearcats.
"(Obert) is the fastest kid on our team and he might be the fastest kid in southwest Missouri," Medley said. "I knew that he was going to be home either way. If he got called out, then it happens and we'd go on from there."
With the game tied 3-3 in the top of the third, Weaubleau scored three runs to knock out Bearcats starting pitcher Austin Neely, who Rountree said had been battling illness. Will Sappington came on in relief and gave up two more runs in the inning, but held the Tigers scoreless from there while pitching the rest of the game.
"When we made (the pitching change), (Sappington) held them right where we needed him to," Rountree said. "I told our boys that if we can scratch back, if we can claw back, that (Sappington) would give us a chance. Unfortunately, I didn't get to stay with them. Hat's off to this group, they've fought and clawed all year long."
Weaubleau, the road team in the game, scored three runs in the top of the first. The Tigers got an RBI single from starting pitcher Drew Flagg, who pitched 6 1/3 innings. Two batters later, Jay King laced a two-run single to make it 3-0.
Dadeville responded in the bottom of the frame, scoring three runs of its own on just one hit. Obert had an RBI single and Nick Yocom drew a bases-loaded walk.
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