By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
DADEVILLE, Mo. —
Nearly mistake free through the first five innings, things began to come apart for the McAuley Catholic Warriors in the bottom of the sixth.
Dadeville took advantage of two McAuley errors, three walks, a balk and a dropped third strike to score three runs on no hits. The Bearcats used the inning to pull away for a 6-2 win over the Warriors on Wednesday in the Class 1 sectionals.
Dadeville advances to the quarterfinals and will face Weaubleau today.
“It’s something we work on every day — routine plays,” McAuley coach Jason McVey said. “A dropped ball to center, an easy throw to first. It all just unraveled right there. Once you get momentum going in a sectional game, it’s going to carry you over. And that swung the momentum right there.”
After a pair of walks and a fielder’s choice, McAuley pitcher Shaw Robertson faced runners on second and third with one out. Robertson, who registered 14 strikeouts in six innings, struck out Ben Keathley. He then appeared to get out of the inning by striking out Zane Medley, but a dropped third strike allowed a runner to score and Medley to reach first. Visibly disappointed by the play, McAuley’s defense was distracted for a second and Medley began to go toward second. Robertson then ran to attempt to tag Medley. Meanwhile, a second Bearcats runner crossed home plate.
McAuley (7-8) appeared to end the inning again, but Wade Coble’s flyball was dropped in center field.
So instead of a 3-2 game and the top McAuley’s order coming to the plate in the seventh, the Warriors trailed 6-2.
Medley kept McAuley scoreless in the seventh, allowing only one hit. He allowed five hits and struck out nine batters in seven innings. After allowing a leadoff double to Conner Hempen in the top of the second, Medley struck out the next three to end the inning.
“It was big,” Dadeville coach Brent Rountree said. “Zane put us on his back and carried us that game. He pounded the zone and got ahead. The little bit about (McAuley) that I did know was that they could put the ball in play and were a good contact hitting team. He kept them off balance, made pitches and came back and executed when he needed to.”
The Warriors were able to get on the board first in the top of the third. Cole Lowry tripled to lead off the inning. Adam Robertson walked and Shaw Robertson, who entered the game hitting .636, was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. Hempen delivered a two-run single to center.
Typically used as a pinch hitter, Hempen moved into a starting role and delivered a 2-for-4 performance.
“Conner Hempen has pinch hit for us a couple times during the season,” McVey said. “He had I believe two or three hits for us in the district tournament. For him to step up and start for us today and go 2-for-4 with a double, that’s huge.”
Medley helped his own cause in the bottom of the third with a two-run home run to tie the game.
Dadeville (17-7) took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Robertson’s pitch hit Keathley with the bases loaded.
The Bearcats were effective at crowding the plate as Robertson hit three batters.
“We had a couple of talks with the umpires about that,” McVey said. “They had even said that they were outside the box. That really affects your concentration on the mound while you’re thinking about a kid being outside of the box.”
The loss ends McAuley’s season, but McVey is proud of his team that won the school’s first district championship since 1982.
“Overall, it was a huge goal accomplished getting to the district championship and winning it,” McVey said. “Getting to a sectional playoff game, that’s great experience for these young men ... It’s kind of a once in a lifetime deal with McAuley baseball. To be district runner-up last year and champions this year, I feel the momentum is going to keep carrying on. Hopefully, we’ve got a tradition built to keep going.”