Leopold baseball falls to Valley in district championship
The Leopold baseball team watched its season come to an end on Wednesday, as top-seeded Valley (Caledonia) combined for eight hits to claim a 6-4 win in the Class 1 District 3 championship game at Wilson Rozier Park in Farmington, Mo.
Blake Boyer finished with a double and three RBIs to lead the way for the Vikings, while Thad Heifner, Ethan Matthews and Keeton Loughary each added a pair of hits.
Dustin Payne threw two innings of relief to pick up the pitching win for Valley (13-11). He didn't allow a hit or a run, finishing with two strikeouts, two walks and one hit batter.
Leopold (6-9) jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the top of the first inning. Simon Elfrink reached after getting hit by a pitch with one out, and he advanced to second on a single by Tristen Graham. The two runners moved into scoring position on a passed ball before Blake Eeftink got an RBI sacrifice fly and an error allowed another run to score.
A one-out hit batter came around to score in the top of the second when Kane Duncan got on base and made his way home on a throwing error by the second baseman, pushing the Wildcats' lead to 3-0.
Valley put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the third to take a 4-3 lead. Trent McClain provided an RBI double to left before Boyer tied things up with a two-run double to left. Two passed balls allowed Boyer to score and give the Vikings a one-run edge.
In the top of the fifth, Leopold tied the game at 4-4. Ryan Lewis was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning before a single by Elfrink allowed Lewis to advance to second. Lewis moved to third on an error by the shortstop, and he scored when Eeftink hit into an RBI fielder's choice.
But the Vikings took the lead for good in the home half of the inning.
Loughary led off with a single, moved into scoring position on a wild pitch and scored when Boyer grounded into an RBI fielder's choice, moving Valley ahead 5-4.
Matthews hit a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to give the Vikings some insurance and increase the lead to 6-4.
Loughary entered in relief and struck out one batter in the seventh to secure the save, as the Wildcats were retired in order. McClain got the start on the mound for Valley, allowing four runs (one earned) on three hits in four innings of work. He struck out two batters, walked one and hit three.
Jace Jansen took the pitching loss for Leopold. He threw two innings of relief, giving up two earned runs on four hits with one strikeout and zero walks.
Sam Horrell started on the mound for the Wildcats before being lifted in favor of Eeftink. Horrell pitched 2 2/3 innings and scattered five hits. He allowed four runs (three earned) and had four strikeouts and two walks. Eeftink threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief and didn't allow a hit. He walked two batters.
Eeftink had three RBIs to lead the Wildcats' offense, while Dalton Forrester had a double to account for the team's only extra-base hit.
The Vikings advance to the next round of sectionals where they will host Eminence at 4 p.m. Monday. The Redwings defeated Lesterville 4-2 in the District 4 title game to move on.
WP -- Dustin Payne. LP -- Jace Jansen. S -- Keeton Loughary. 2B -- Dalton Forrester (L), Blake Boyer (V), Thad Heifner (V), Trent McClain (V). Multiple hits -- Valley: Ethan Matthews 2-3, Loughary 2-3, Heifner 2-4.