Despite loss, quarterfinal appearance a success for Lockwood baseball

By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

A pair of big innings and 11 walks issued by Lockwood pitchers spelled trouble for the Tigers in their Class 1 quarterfinal baseball game on Wednesday against St. Elizabeth.

It amounted to a 14-0 loss in five innings for Lockwood, but the fact the Tigers were still playing in the last week of May was an accomplishment in and of itself.

“It exceeded all expectations,” Lockwood coach Adam Grisham said. “When districts came out we knew we’d have a chance to compete for districts. The support we’ve gotten as a community from the parents and the school has just been absolutely overwhelming. The turnout here you saw, it exceeded expectations. I can’t thank everyone enough.”

The Tigers, 13-9, weren’t even included in the final state rankings earlier this month. They went 9-10 in 2019 and hadn’t won a dozen games in a season since 2016. Grisham’s first season at the helm was canceled due to the pandemic.

“A lot of the heart of our numbers is the sophomore class who are in the same boat as everybody around here, they’re basically freshmen,” Grisham said. “They didn’t have any varsity experience. We got three seniors starting, one junior and the rest are all freshmen and sophomores who weren’t on that team two years ago. These young guys really picked up a lot of slack and impressed a lot of people, especially me.”

One of those seniors was Dylan Gallup, who will pitch at Evangel next year and collected one of Lockwood’s two hits in the season-ending loss. He never expected to play in a quarterfinal game this spring.

“To tell you 100 percent honestly – no,” he said. “We came in here a couple seniors and a ton of young guys and we came in here obviously trying to win every game we could but also building for the future. We came in here trying to win a district championship. We just fought and clawed every chance we got and we found a way to get here. We came together as a team and we battled every single pitch and found a way to get here. This sucks but it was a successful season.”

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE GAME

Lockwood started slowly, with a 3-5 record in the middle of April, before winning six of seven and posting a pair of four-game winning streaks. Gallup said things started clicking for the team in the second half.

“We cleaned everything up,” he said. “We found a way to put a bat on the ball. Second half of the season we hit our stride.”

“Towards the end of the season and going into districts we felt we could make a run at it,” he said. “Sure enough we made a run.”

“I always ask them to do the tiniest things perfect and I think we started doing that halfway through the season,” Grisham said.

Lockwood won 10-0 and 4-0 in its two district games and Gallup was a huge reason why. He threw a no hitter in the championship against Liberal, striking out 13 and throwing just 84 pitches.

“One hit by pitch away from a perfect game at districts,” Grisham said. “That kid’s a force on the mound. When he’s on the mound we’re a tough team to beat.”

He struck out 13 again in the team’s 3-2 sectional win against Billings, allowing one hit and no runs and also homering for the offense.

The team’s luck ran out on Wednesday against St. Elizabeth, which improved to 20-5 and will face Leeton on Monday in the semifinals. The Hornets scored five runs in the second, two in the fourth and seven in the fifth while collecting 11 walks and 12 hits. Only two went for extra bases.

St. Elizabeth starter Brock Lucas struck out 10 in four innings and allowed two hits – a double by Rader Boyd was the other one.

The Tigers used Dylan Snider, Skyler Weimer and Spencer Neal on the mound; Snider and Weimer each recorded a strike out.

When it was over, Grisham told his team to turn and look at the fans who’d come to watch.

“I told them to turn and look and see the turnout and all the people who came out here to support them,” he said.

“We have a very bright future and getting this far in our little town and seeing little kids throwing it hard and saying they’re the next Dylan Gallup, if they’re fast saying they’re the next Jaime Kramer, them idolizing – I think they brought a lot of love for the sport back to this town,” Grisham said.

“From my perspective I’ll absolutely never forget it,” he added. “I will compare every new team I ever have to these guys. I can’t thank all these great people out here enough. It’s been a heck of a season.”

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