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FESTUS, Mo. – Nic Blessing stood in the batter's box with the winning runner at second base and one out in the eighth inning of the Jefferson Tournament title game against West County on Saturday.

Dash King had walked to begin home half of the eighth inning, and reached scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Sam Juenger.

Blessing was down in the count 1-2, and watched a breaking ball skip to the backstop, moving King to third base.

He fouled off two more pitches after working the count full, and saw the eighth pitch of the battle bounce away.

King sprinted down the line and dived toward the plate at the same time as West County catcher Luke Gaia.

Priory claimed an 8-7 comeback victory when King’s hand touched the dish and the ball squirted free on the attempted tag.

Nick Kurz went 2-for-4 and drove in three to lead Priory. Ross VanBree had two hits and scored twice.

Trailing by six runs, Priory (3-0) needed a huge seventh inning to extend the game. Christian Drummond reached base on an error by the third baseman to begin the rally, and a walk and infield hit loaded the bases with one out.

VanBree pulled an RBI single to left field, and a fly ball to shallow center was overrun by Peyton Nipper as another man scored.

J.P. Spellmeyer blooped a hit that barely reached the grass behind first base, bringing in the third run of the inning.

A wild pitch brought in another with Kurz at the plate. His RBI single made it 7-6 moments later, and Jack Taul added a tying sacrifice fly.

Gaia and Tyler Price paced West County with three hits each. Price had a double and drove in two, while Gaia scored twice and reached base for a fourth time on a fielder’s choice.

Taul pitched the first four innings for Priory. He allowed three runs on six hits and struck out four, and was in line for the loss before his team surged back.

Kurz pitched the final three innings for the win, allowing no runs and two hits while striking out three.

The Bulldogs (2-1) jumped ahead when Ty Simily connected for the third consecutive single of the first inning. Roney extended the lead to 2-0 with a sacrifice-fly.

Kaiden Barton started the fourth with a double, and came around to score on Price’s single.

West County took a commanding 7-1 lead in the fifth after the first four batters reached base. Dake McRaven doubled home Simily while Roney singled in Gaia.

Roney crossed the plate during a fielder’s choice, and McRaven scored when Price singled to left field with two outs.

Roney struck out seven batters, and cruised through six innings before facing trouble in the shaky seventh.

Gaia relieved with two runners on base, and escaped further damage before suffering the loss in the eighth.

West County missed an opportunity to regain the lead in the top of the frame. but was unsuccessful. Gaia ripped a grounder off the third baseman's glove, but Blessing picked up the ball from his shortstop position and fired home.

Dakota Dowd slid into the plate, and was called out as the ball arrived. Head coach John Simily question the ruling to no avail.

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Jared Pettus is a sports reporter for the Daily Journal He can be reached at


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