Rolla, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- Nick Pearcy had thrown just six innings all season, but on Wednesday, the sophomore left hander turned in a clutch relief performance.
Getting help from Austin Knight, the Yellowjackets' strong armed center fielder, Pearcy came up big as Lebanon defeated Waynesville, 3-2, to capture the Missouri Class 5, District 10 championship on Wednesday in Rolla.
Trailing 3-1 in the top of the seventh inning, Waynesville got a leadoff double from its No. 8 hitter, freshman Ryan Pendleton and No. 9 batter Justin Wagner reached safely when the Yellowjackets dropped a fly ball in the outfield.
With the top of the Tiger lineup coming up, Lebanon head coach Dustin Young turned to Pearcy, setting up a lefty-on-lefty match-up with Waynesville leadoff batter Trent Simpson.
With runners at second and third and no outs, Pearcy got Simpson to fly out on the infield, then struck out the Tigers' No. 2 batter.
Waynesville's No. 3 batter Ethan Howser came through with a hit up the middle that snuck through the Lebanon infield, and with both base runners off on contact with two outs, the Tigers attempted to score the tying run from second base.
But Lebanon junior centerfielder Austin Knight threw a strike to home plate, nailing the runner by several feet and ending the game.
The win for Lebanon gives the 'Jackets their third district title since 2007 and ends a run by the Tigers as the No. 5 seed (in a six-team district). Waynesville defeated host Rolla on Saturday, then knocked off top-seeded Glendale on Monday.
"We had base runners in every inning and had runners in scoring position in every inning (against Lebanon)," Waynesville head coach Scott Turner said. "We didn't get clutch hits like we did in the past and that was the difference."
Much of that was due to the performance of the Lebanon defense. The 'Jackets turned a double play with the bases loaded and one out to end the fourth inning, and with two on and one out in the fifth, Brad Archer speared a line drive at third base and David Johnson made a diving catch in right field to end another Waynesville threat.
"We hit the ball hard — how many times did they make a great play out there?" Turner said.
Waynesville (9-17) got a two-out hit in the sixth, but Johnson came up big again as he threw out the batter attempting to stretch the play into a double.
"We preached all year long to worry about making the routine play and the great plays will come," Lebanon head coach Dustin Young said. "We saw the exceptional play at least three times (on Wednesday) ... I'd like to attribute that to coaching, but you can't teach stuff like that. They are hungry and they know what they have to do."
Knight's key throw home to cut down the tying run came just two days after he threw 112 pitches and worked six scoreless innings in relief in a 12-inning, 8-7 win over Hillcrest.
"His arm is sore after throwing 112 on Monday, but he left it all on the field right there," Young said. "I guarantee you, all the kids on the team, when the ball was hit in his direction knew good things were going to happen."
Both teams got a big performance from its starting pitcher. Lebanon junior Dylan Bradshaw made his first start since April 19 and threw six-plus innings. He allowed six hits, walked three and struck out two to record the win.
"He came in and threw strikes, kept hitters off balance and did exactly what he had to do to get the win," Young said.
Waynesville left hander Zach York threw six innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits. He did not issue a walk and struck out five and even drew the praise of Young from the opposite dugout.
"He did a great job and I'd like to tip my cap to him," Young said.
After the Tigers scored in the top of the first on a single by freshman Trey Simpson and an RBI double by senior Eriq Kirstek, Lebanon answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. Rocky Long led off with a double, Bradshaw reached on an infield error and Josh Bennett came through with an RBI double.
York settled in after that and retired nine straight and appeared to have made it 10 but the Tigers kicked a routine grounder at first base to open the fourth inning. The error set up a third Lebanon run as Brad Archer came through with a sacrifice fly.
Lebanon (14-9) advances to play Columbia Rock Bridge (22-5) in a sectional game on May 21 in Columbia. The Yellowjackets fell to the Bruins on April 20 in the championship game of the Lebanon Central Bank Wood Bat tournament, 2-1, on a walk-off squeeze play.
Missouri Class 5 District 10 championship game
LEBANON 3, WAYNESVILLE 2
on Wednesday, at Rolla High School
R H E
Waynesville 100 000 1 - 2 7 2
Lebanon 200 100 x — 3 5 2
Waynesville hits — Eriq Kirstek 2 (2B), Zach York, Ryan Pendleton, Justin Wagner, Trey Simpson, Ethan Howser.
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