UNION, Mo. – With unbeaten ace Connor Basler on the mound Tuesday, the Valle Catholic coaching staff had the latitude to tweak the batting order with a high measure of comfort.
The Warriors clicked for six runs after two outs had been recorded in the fourth inning, and marched toward their sixth consecutive district championship and 10th over the last 11 seasons.
Basler was inches away from throwing a no-hitter, and struck out six as Valle Catholic downed Barat Academy 10-0 in five innings to win the Class 2, District 4 title.
Senior Nick Oberle finished 3-for-4 and pinch-hitter Kaden Bauman drilled a bases-clearing double as Valle Catholic clinched its third straight 30-win season.
The Warriors (30-2), whose only losses have come against fellow 2015 state champions Notre Dame and CBC, will host either Greenville or Chaffee in the Class 2 state sectional round on Monday.
Barat Academy (7-16) sought the upset after eliminating Crystal City 19-18 in a wild semifinal game that required the services of three pitchers on Monday.
The Eagles threatened twice when Basler issued two walks in each of the first two innings, but the right-hander regrouped to escape each situation with a ground ball.
Harry Reinagel notched the lone Barat hit leading off the third inning when a high chopper glanced off Basler’s glove and trickled along the infield.
Basler picked off Reinagel moments later, however, and found his control for good when Luke Lampros chased a sweeping full-count offering. Basler (10-0) retired his last eight batters faced.
Loida regained his balance while charging a slow roller to retire a batter in the fourth, and Basler fanned the side in the fifth.
Valle Catholic picked up two unearned runs in the home half of the third when a potential force out was dropped by the catcher. Both Oberle and Basler scored on the misplay for a 3-0 lead after executing a successful double steal.
Eagles hurler Tony Laviola kept the Warriors relatively contained until the fourth, but Cole Wood lined an RBI single with runners at the corners as six straight batters reached safely.
After Chris Loida walked to load the bases, Bauman was summoned from the bench and plugged the left-center gap for three RBI and a 7-0 advantage.
Reinagel was greeted in relief by another RBI double from Chet Meyer and an ensuing RBI single by Brendan Samples. Garrett Jaegers scored the ending run on Loida’s ground out in the fifth.
Meyer was moved from fifth to seventh in the order for the championship game, and reached base all three times for Valle Catholic after twice being plunked by pitches.
Wood walked twice and netted two RBI after his sacrifice fly in the first inning began the scoring. Basler finished 1-for-3 with two runs scored.
The final two rounds of the tournament were moved from host site New Haven to the artificial turf field at Union High School. Soaking rain stopped falling just prior to the first pitch.
Matt King is a sports reporter for the Daily Journal. Contact him at email@example.com