By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Isaac Wells tossed a seven-inning gem and the Glendale defense made some crucial plays behind him as the Falcons pulled off a 2-0 upset at Webb City Saturday in the Class 5 District 6 baseball championship.
Wells, who struck out six and scattered three hits, said he “100 percent” anticipated the strong effort.
“I knew waking up, I had dreams about it,” he said. “I wasn’t worried at all going into it. I knew my team was going to be behind me. I knew we were going to work and I knew they didn’t have a chance and we were going to come out here and win this ballgame.”
Glendale, 20-11, knocked off the top-seeded Cardinals, 26-6, with a pair of two-out runs. Zach Beatty scored what would be the game winner after walking with two outs in the top of the fifth; Brooks Kettering drove him in with a double to left field.
The Falcons added another in the seventh after Carter Lewis reached on an infield error. He scored from second on a two-out single to left by Beatty.
“Two-out hits are huge,” Glendale coach Jim Julian said. “We try to complete the inning whether it’s offensively or defensively. We did a great job of – their guy’s throwing a great game and just did a great job of staying in each at bat and not really giving at bats away and battling until the final out of the inning. Fortunate enough to have a couple two-out hits when we needed them.”
Glendale collected five hits and two walks in the game. Beatty and DJ Cofield each went 2-for-3.
Wells outdueled Webb City starter Cole Gayman, who struck out six and allowed one earned run in seven innings. Gayman got a strikeout to strand two in the first and struck out two more in the second to strand a runner at third.
“Cole’s a competitor,” Webb City coach Flave Darnell said. “Cole’s been great all year. He’s our guy so he did a great job. He did what we expected him to. You say hey we’ll give up two runs that game and we’d feel pretty good about it. Cole did what we wanted him to do.”
Webb City had a baserunner caught stealing in the first inning and stranded two in the second. Another out came on a rundown in the third between second and third base.
The Cardinals’ best chance was the bottom of the sixth. Eric Fitch singled to lead off and Treghan Parker later walked to put two on with one out. But Glendale third baseman Caimon Kufahl fielded a grounder by Shane Noel and turned it into a double play to end the inning.
“That was huge and again Isaac, that’s just kind of his MO,” Julian said. “He throws strikes and trusts his defense. Our defense has steadily improved all year and they’re just playing with confidence right now and he just trusted his defense and they made a good play behind him.”
“That’s just an amazing play and saved probably a run and it keeps us in the ballgame so it was really good,” Wells said.
“They got us a couple times on the bases,” Darnell said. “They turned a double play there. Pitching, defense wins. They made a few more plays than we did today.”
Glendale posted its third-straight shutout with the victory, each of them coming in district play. Two came against state-ranked teams, as Carl Junction was tied for fifth and Webb City was second in the final rankings.
“That’s huge for our confidence,” Julian said. “We’ve been playing pretty confident the latter half of the season. We’re playing good at the right time I guess you could say. A credit to these guys, these seniors especially. They’ve got kind of a never die attitude and respect all opponents but don’t fear anything. We came with a good approach the last couple weeks of the season heading into the district.”
For Webb City, the loss ends the high school careers of a talented senior class that once played in the Little League World Series and won 66 games the last three seasons. The Cardinals were district champions in 2019.
“It’s unfortunate only one teams wins that last game of the year,” Darnell said. “We had a really good season and that senior class really led the way. Those guys will be sorely missed, each and every one of them. They’re awesome guys and competitors. They’ve played a ton of baseball. I know this isn’t how they wanted it to end but sometimes it doesn’t go the way you wanted it to.”
Glendale, meanwhile, claimed its second-straight district title and has now won 20-plus games for four straight seasons. The Falcons lost in the Class 5 quarterfinals in 2019.
Glendale will play in the quarterfinals again on May 29.
“That’s a really good ball team and I think it prepares us really well for state and I think we’ve got a chance there, too,” Wells said.