STE. GENEVIEVE – The West County Bulldogs successfully avenged their only loss of the season on Tuesday, with a 3-2 victory over the Arcadia Valley Tigers in the first of two semi-final matchups in the MAAA Small-School Conference tournament in Ste. Genevieve.
Alan Hickman was the winning pitcher for West County. Both Arcadia Valley runs scored against Hickman were unearned. Hickman pitched a complete game, scattering six hits and two walks, while racking up seven strikeouts.
Jon Hankins also threw a complete game in a losing effort for the Tigers. Hankins surrendered one earned run on five hits and two walks, while recording three strikeouts.
The two clubs combined to commit six errors in the game. There were also several base-running mistakes that squandered scoring opportunities for both teams. There were no extra-base hits in the game for either squad.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring in their half of the second inning. John Barnett drew a one-out walk. James Abel was the next hitter, and he reached on an error. A delayed double steal put both Barnett and Abel in scoring position. Both runners came in to score when Brad Ketcherside slapped a two-out single into right-center field.
Arcadia Valley quickly responded in the third inning. J.T. Smith walked to lead off the inning, and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Brandon Granger followed with a single that sent Smith to third base.
A throwing error allowed Smith to cross the plate, while Granger hustled all the way to third. Hankins brought Granger home with an RBI ground out to tie the contest at 2-2.
West County regained the lead in fifth inning. Mark Merrill led off the inning with a single. Richard McCoy executed a sacrifice bunt to send Merrill to second base. Merrill moved on to third, because the Arcadia Valley defense did not cover the third base bag.
The mental lapse proved to be very costly for the Tigers. Jed Momot hit a ground ball on the infield and beat the throw to first base for an RBI single. Merrill scored from third on the play to put the Bulldogs ahead, 3-2.
The Tigers’ first two hitters reached base in the sixth inning, but Hickman was able to pitch out of trouble. Andrew McClanahan singled to lead off the seventh for Arcadia Valley, but the West County defense turned a double play to end the game.
Momot and Granger each led their respective team with a 2-3 performance at the plate. West County improved to 14-1 overall on the season with the win, while Arcadia Valley dropped to 8-10.
West County will face the winner of the other semi-final matchup between Valle Catholic and Valley for the tournament championship. Arcadia Valley will face the loser of that contest for third place. Both games are scheduled to take place on Thursday in Ste. Genevieve.
The second semi-final matchups was suspended during the bottom of the fourth inning, as Valle was batting with a 2-0 lead. The game was halted when lightning filled the sky around Ste. Genevieve. Tornado sirens began sounding minutes later, and the baseball field was immediately evacuated. It has yet to be determined when the suspended game will be completed.