It has been an amazing ten days of high school baseball in Jefferson County. We’ve seen surprises, upsets, and great individual performances. Congratulations to the Crystal City Hornets, Jefferson Blue Jays, and Festus Tigers for claiming their respective District Championships! Let’s recap the District Tournaments, see how my predictions held up, and then preview the first round of State Sectionals.
Class 2, District 4:
As predicted, the #1 seed Crystal City Hornets came out on top, edging Principia 7-6 in the Championship game. Principia scored 4 runs in the 7th and had the bases loaded before Hornets pitcher Ian Kirn recorded a strikeout for the final out. Hunter Bassin paced the offense, going 2 fo2 with a home run, 2 RBI, and 5 total bases. The victory marked Crystal City’s first district title since 2012.
Class 3, District 4:
This District battle played out just as I thought it would. The #1 Seed St. Pius Lancers made quick work of #4 seed Valley Park 9-1, to reach the Championship game. Playing at home, #2 seed Jefferson shutout #3 seed Grandview 9-0 to reach the finals. After spotting St. Pius 2 unearned runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Jefferson came storming back in the third with 3 runs, to take the lead. Three consecutive doubles by seniors Dawson Jakoubek, Dylan Schnitzler, and Colby Ott gave the Blue Jays a 1-run advantage. The precarious lead would last until the bottom of the 5th. Junior Lancer Nathan Stoll earned a walk. A balk moved him to second, then senior Zander Parson lined a base hit to bring Stoll home and tie the game. Once again, Jefferson would respond in the next half-inning. A single and 2 walks loaded the bases with 1 out for junior Colten Richardson. The lanky first baseman roped a long single to center, clearing the bases and making the score 6 to 3 in favor of the Blue Jays. Jefferson would tack one more run on in the 7th before relief pitcher Colby Ott shut the door on St. Pius. For the Blue Jays, it was their first district championship in school history.
Class 4, District 2:
In the first game of the tournament, #5 seed Herculaneum beat #4 seed Potosi 10 -8. Unfortunately, this gave the Blackcats the right to play #1 seed Valle Catholic in the next round. As predicted, Valle Catholic steamrolled over both Herculaneum and Ste. Genevieve to win the District title. The Warriors have the look of a team that will make it to the final 4, if not win the State tournament outright.
Class 5, District 1:
At this point, I was feeling pretty good about my predictions. I was 3 for 3 in smaller classes. It would take the upstart Festus Tigers to come along and shatter my perfect bracket dreams. Very few people, including myself, thought that the #5 seeded Tigers had a chance against the likes of Desoto and Farmington. They had not won a game against those teams all season. I had picked the Desoto Dragons to win this District. What a learned is that you can never count a team coached by Jeff Montgomery out. In addition to getting timely hitting from senior leaders Collin Reando and Cole Wagner, the Tigers got incredible pitching from a trio of sophomore hurlers. Nate Moore, Ian Brown, and Jackson Gross help opponents to just 3 runs in 3 games. Festus took down #4 seed Sikeston, #1 seed Desoto, and Cruised past #6 seed Cape Notre Dame 4-0 in the Championship game. The boys from Mid-Meadow Lane of caught lightning in a bottle at just the right time!
Class 5, District 2:
The Windsor Owls had a disappointing end to an otherwise outstanding season by getting bounced from the tournament in game 1 by the Pacific Indians. The JCAA Large school Conference Co-Champions finished their season with an outstanding 17-10 mark. in this District, I had predicted that Parkway West would win the title, and they made it to the Championship game, only to be knocked out by Rockwood Summit.
Class 6, District 1:
This bracket included the #4 seed Seckman Jaguars, the #5 seed Fox Warriors, and the #6 seed Northwest Lions. Seckman shutout Fox 7-0 in the first round before losing to Lindbergh in a heartbreaker, 2-1. Northwest fell to #3 seed Jackson in the first round to end their successful season. I had predicted that the #2 seed Vianney Golden Griffins would upset Lindbergh for the district title but they were upset by the #3 seed Poplar Bluff Mules in the first round. That would clear the way for the Lindbergh Flyers to sweep the bracket for the Championship.
One to the Next Round
Starting today (5/24) the 3 remaining Jefferson County teams begin State Playoff action.
Class 2 State Playoffs:
Crystal City travels to Patton, Missouri to play the Class 2, District 3 Champs Meadow Heights Panthers. on paper, this looks like a very even matchup. The Hornets sport a 14-8 record and are 4-4 on the road. The Panthers come in at 12-8 and are 5-3 at home. Meadow Heights is 3-2 against common opponents, while Crystal City is 2-2. The teams did not face each other in the regular season. I’m going to ride with the Hornets in this one, as I believe their offense to be more potent than the Panthers’.
Class 3 State Playoffs:
The 15-8 Jefferson Blue Jays will be at Cuba High school on Tuesday to take on the 9-13 Wildcats. This game will come down to starting pitching but I believe that the Blue Jays will prevail. There’s just too much senior leadership and experience in pressure situations for the Jays to lose. They will find a way to win, just as many of these players did during their historic run in the football postseason.
Class 5 State Playoffs:
Festus (15-14), will host this game at Jefferson College on Saturday at noon. They will face the Rockwood Summit Falcons (16-14), a team with almost identical stats. The Tigers have scored an average of 5.4 runs per game while giving up 4.3. The Falcons have averaged 5.7 runs per game while giving up 4.4. They are both 1-2 against common opponents but did not face each other in the regular season. This game is a tossup, with the slight advantage to Festus for playing at a location that many of their players are familiar with. Can the trio of sophomore pitchers continue to work their magic? Will the Tigers continue to get clutch hitting from their wily seniors? This should be a great game that you won’t want to miss!
Check back next week for my thoughts on the State Playoffs.
Thanks for reading!