Semoball

Squirrels fall to North Dakota in Midwest Regional

The McDonald’s Fighting Squirrels 14U baseball team stands for a photo following the Babe Ruth Midwest Regional in Charleston, Mo., on Saturday, July 30.
Dennis Marshall/Standard-Democrat

CHARLESTON, Mo. — The McDonald’s Fighting Squirrels 14U baseball team earned a second-place finish at the 2022 Babe Ruth Midwest Regional after they fell to North Dakota in the championship game at Benny Hillhouse Memorial Park in Charleston, Mo.

North Dakota won 15-0 on Saturday, July 30, to earn a trip to the 14U World Series and end the Squirrels’ season.

“These guys will continue to improve,” said coach Dustin Hicks said. “[This group] can really have a high ceiling. They hit the ball really well, they’re coachable and I think as they continue to grow they’ll make some big improvements.”

Brayden Vaughn takes a swing for the McDonald’s Fighting Squirrels 14U baseball team during the Babe Ruth Midwest Regional in Charleston, Mo., on Saturday, July 30.
Dennis Marshall/Standard-Democrat

The team played multiple games against the 15U competition and battled a plethora of injuries.

“It seemed like every time we got someone healthy, another one would go down with an injury,” Hicks said. “So we had a lot of guys playing out of position throughout the season, but they were all very coachable, played hard and played the right way.”

The Squirrels started the tournament with a 13-6 win over Iowa on Friday, Aug. 29.

Gibson Booker throws a pitch for the McDonald’s Fighting Squirrels 14U baseball team during the Babe Ruth Midwest Regional in Charleston, Mo., on Saturday, July 30.
Dennis Marshall/Standard-Democrat

Bo Lily, Houston Neely and Kennan Siebert each had two RBIs and multiple hits. Gibson Booker earned the win on the mound with six strikeouts.

The team dropped its second game of the day 15-10 to North Dakota on Friday after leading 8-6 entering the fifth inning. Lily and Kale Richardson were the team’s only players with multiple hits in this game. Siebert had a team-high three RBIs.

The Squirrels bounced back by defeating Iowa for the second time on Saturday, this time 12-2.

Cody Massey makes a catch for the McDonald’s Fighting Squirrels 14U baseball team during the Babe Ruth Midwest Regional in Charleston, Mo., on Saturday, July 30.
Dennis Marshall/Standard-Democrat

Billy went 3-for-4, Richardson and Houston Crawford were each 2-for-3, and Neely was 2-for-4.

Crawford also earned the win on the mound.

The Squirrels couldn’t get much going in the championship game against North Dakota after it was the team’s fourth game in less than 24 hours.

“I am really proud of these young men,” Hicks said. “They were really taxed by the time they got out here today. They had to play for about six hours last night with a quick turnaround today, and another full game before they got to this game. They just didn’t have much left in the tank.”

The Squirrels finished the season 20-17.

“They’re high character kids who let us coach them tough,” Hicks said. “They have good parents who let us coach them tough and that's a tribute to coach [Michael] Minner and the Squirrels program. Everyone understood that they check their egos at the door. All of these kids are the best players from their schools. Sometimes they have to make sacrifices that they normally wouldn’t.

They all did everything they could to help us win and as a coach, you couldn’t ask for anything more.”

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