Glendale overcomes early deficit to win second consecutive district title


By Denise Tucker (For

The celebrations were on for the Glendale Falcons on Saturday afternoon and likely continued into the evening.

Glendale senior ace Drew Wedgeworth went the distance in leading the top-seeded Falcons to their second-straight district baseball championship with a 4-2 victory over the No. 3 seed Nixa Eagles in the Class 6 District 6 final at Kickapoo High School.

But first, the Glendale seniors walked across the stage to accept their high school diplomas Saturday morning in one of five Springfield Public Schools commencement ceremonies at Missouri State University’s Great Southern Bank Arena. Then, it was time to walk onto the baseball diamond.

Glendale captured back-to-back district titles in 2023 (Class 5), and then this season after moving up to Class 6.

“It means a lot; it’s huge for the program, huge for these nine seniors and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Glendale coach, and 1995 grad, Jim Julian said of the Falcons’ accomplishment. “Moving up a class, we’ve beefed up our schedule. We had a pretty tough schedule last year and played a tough schedule this year and tried to get ready for district play, knowing that we would probably be in this district, which obviously, top-to-bottom is a pretty loaded district.”

The Eagles jumped on Wedgeworth and the Falcons right off the bat. Nixa designated hitter Caleb Jones, the second batter in the lineup, knocked a base hit through the right side of the infield before center fielder Wyatt Vincent sent the first pitch he saw over the center-field fence to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

The Falcons were unable to answer in the first, but played a little “small ball” in the second to pull within 2-1, starting with a single by left fielder Brady Yates. Center fielder Brayden Biggers’ sacrifice moved Yates to second, and Yates was then able to score when the Nixa right fielder lost Alex Rankin’s fly ball in the sun.

Wedgeworth settled in, allowing just one Nixa hit and no runs in the top of the third inning. Glendale tied the game at 2 in the bottom of the inning on Rankin’s RBI single that scored Yates, who reached on a two-out walk.

“He’s an unbelievable player, unbelievable person, obviously, a great pitcher,” Julian said of Wedgeworth’s performance. “He gave up two (runs) early, and then that was all he gave up. He kind of beared down a little bit more. I guess maybe (he) was a little… nerves or amped up or something in the first, leaving some pitches up, corrected that and made the adjustment like he has all year when he’s faced a little adversity.

“Another typical Drew game, throwing strikes, being efficient, using his defense – defense played great behind him – and just glad to get to see more of it.”


And that was helped by the Falcons’ big fourth inning.

Rex Deters opened the fourth with a base hit up the middle on the first pitch he saw. Cam Stratton walked, followed by a Sebastian Norman base-on-balls. Nixa changed pitchers and Mark Ross’ fly ball fell in between the infield and center field, scoring Deters to give Glendale a 3-2 lead with no outs.

Wedgeworth came to the plate and sent a bases-loaded, sacrifice fly to the center-field warning track to plate another Glendale run, bringing Stratton home for a 4-2 advantage. Nixa was able to turn a double play to end the inning.

“I was watching it and was like, ‘this is the way I get my first home run in high school; that would be fantastic,’” Wedgeworth said of his “almost” grand slam in the fourth inning. “We got two runs, but
I don’t think any of us ever blinked or were worried. We knew that we could chip away from them, and their pitching was kind of thin because they already threw their top two guys. So, we kind of chipped away and got a couple of runs here and there and then we closed the door.”

The lefty went the distance, throwing 99 pitches – just six shy of the MSHSAA 105-pitch limit – and his defense helped him keep Nixa off the scoreboard after that first inning.

“We went in, I was planning on going seven (innings), no matter what,” Wedgeworth said. “I didn’t close the game earlier in the year against Nixa; I had to go 6-2/3 (innings), right at 105. And after those first few innings, I was worried that the pitch count may get up there. I came in after the fifth and I realized that I’ve got 35 pitches left. I went out for the seventh and I still had 25 and I felt good from there.”

Nixa coach Logan Hughes tipped his cap to Wedgeworth and the Falcons, who defeated his Eagles 2-1 back on March 19.

“We just couldn’t get the big hits the rest of the game,” Hughes said. “Their kids are really good and Wedgeworth has been great all year. He’s a really good pitcher. He knows how to pitch. He competes, and you’ve got to earn everything against him. We got a couple early and we had some more opportunities; we just couldn’t take advantage of it.”

The Eagles, who ended their season at 23-12, graduate seven players on Sunday afternoon, including their two catchers.

“We kind of struggled offensively most of the year just to be consistent,” Hughes said, “I think, at times, trying to do too much maybe at the plate and we just need to simplify things a little bit better, consistently. We’ve got a lot of talent and sometimes we’re just trying to do a little too much maybe, it feels like, and that’s on me.

“But we had a good approach against them. We had a lot of balls hit hard, and they’re really, really good, though. Coach Julian does an awesome job, and his staff; they’re a great program. We just didn’t have enough tonight.”

The Falcons, who improved to 26-5, head back to the quarterfinal round, where they will face Blue Springs, a 3-2 winner over Grain Valley in the Class 6 District 5 title game. Last season, Glendale fell to St. Francis Borgia, currently ranked No. 1 in Class 6, 2-0 in the Class 5 quarterfinals.

That loss has motivated the Falcons this season to get back and try to advance to the program’s first final four since 1978.

“I think that was huge for us last year, getting a taste of it, winning the district and then moving on,” Julian said. “Those guys that were here last year as seniors kind of showed these guys as juniors – these seniors – how to play, what it takes… I think they were a huge part of it in our run last year and was a huge part of our success this year.”

“I think about Borgia probably once a week because it hurts,” Wedgeworth said of last year’s quarterfinal loss. “I grew up with Brooks Kettering and DJ Cofield, Spencer (Pottebaum) and Carter (Lewis), all great players. I was devastated whenever we couldn’t go back to Ozark, in our backyard, and play again. I think we brought it back again this year and I’m just excited we’re going to get to play at home this year.”

(1) GLENDALE 4, (3) NIXA 2
Class 6 District 6 Championship

NIXA 2-0-0-0-0-0-0—2—8—1
GLENDALE 0-1-1-2-0-0-X—4—7—0

UP NEXT: Glendale vs. Blue Springs (Class 6 District 5 winner) in Class 6 quarterfinals on Saturday, May 25.

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