It’s been seven years since Wright City could call itself a conference champion.
On Monday, the privilege was restored.
The Wildcats 3-2 triumph over North Callaway gave them at least a share of the EMO title, with games still remaining.
In a meeting that was indicative of two 7-0 powers locking horns, picking a hero was a challenge.
“It was about what I expected with two of the best pitchers in the conference going at it,” said Coach Dave Chapman. “It was a total team effort, and that’s what we’ve preaching all year.”
Senior Austin Meine controlled the mound, while freshman Donovan Mozee employed his power at the plate.
Junior Austin Marsh even resorted to his middle school hurdling skills to score the Wildcats’ go-ahead run.
Meine says he was particularly glad to finally be playing a game of significance.
“The past few years, we’ve kind of been in a dry spell and hadn’t played in a game that was for a championship,” he acknowledged.
With one out and base runners lurking on first and second in the bottom of the seventh, pressure bore down on Meine. But his teammates were prepared to back him and snagged the final two outs.
“Whenever something bad would happen, we’d pick each other up, and that’s the way the game is supposed to be played,” said Meine.
He whiffed nine batters, walked five and allowed five hits during a contest where every minor offensive play was potentially a gigantic breakthrough.
“When he or Tyler (Tuepker) pitches, we’ve got a chance to beat anybody,” said Chapman.
The Wildcats managed just two hits through the first three innings, striking out four times.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of offense,” said Chapman. “We did just enough.”
Wright City trailed 1-0 and had been relatively lifeless at the plate when Mozee stepped into the batters box for the second time. He had struck out his first time up, but the third baseman still had a chip on his shoulder.
“I was confident,” asserted Mozee, who unloaded a solo home run over the centerfield fence in the fourth inning to push the Wildcats ahead 2-1.
“I was just trying to take the ball the other way and trying to stay down,” he added.
Tuepker had already scored after leading off the inning with a single.
Mozee, who went 2-for-3, added a pivotal double in the sixth inning to help Marsh score on an acrobatic play at home plate. With the catcher attempting to field the ball directly in the base path, he made a split decision go over instead of through the obstacle.
“I’m not one to take down stocky guys, so instincts kind of took over and I hurdled him,” explained Marsh.
Wright City carried a 3-1 advantage into the bottom of the sixth, during which North Callaway took advantage of a walk and hit-by-pitch to score another run.
The Wildcats were scheduled to meet Montgomery County on Wednesday with an opportunity to win the EMO outright.