STURGEON — In recent years, playing along the U.S. 63 corridor yielded state tournament trips for the New Haven baseball Shamrocks.
In 2007, the eventual Class 1 state champions won at Northeast in Cairo during the quarterfinal round. The 2008 fourth-place Shamrocks won over Paris in Moberly and at LaPlata.
But New Haven’s luck north of Columbia ran out Wednesday in a 6-1 Class 1 quarterfinal loss to Sturgeon.
Sturgeon, a team New Haven beat at home on the way to the 2007 state championship, took advantage of its opportunities to end New Haven’s season at 11-14.
“I don’t think in the middle of the year many people on the team or watching the team play thought we would be in the final eight teams in the state,” New Haven Head Coach Jim Scheer said. “I’m proud of what the boys accomplished, disappointed with how it ended, but I am proud of what they’ve done.”
Ryan Seidel earned the win for the Bulldogs, going 4.2 innings while allowing one run on seven hits and four walks while striking out six Shamrocks.
“He was a little bit wild early on,” Scheer said. “I think he got a better command of his pitches as the game went on. We walked early, too. When he got better control of his pitches, he worked the breaking ball a bit more and kept us off balance.”
Spencer Kelly pitched the final 2.1 innings, allowing two hits while striking out three.
Garrett Schoenfeld suffered the loss for New Haven. Over six innings, he allowed six runs (one earned) on eight hits and one walk. He struck out seven Sturgeon batters.
“I thought Garrett pitched fine,” Scheer said. “He battled pretty good out there. They hit the ball pretty hard, too. I thought Garrett did a pretty nice job.”
Austin Madden pitched the final inning, giving up one hit while striking out two of the four batters he faced.
Offensively, Sam Pollock and Kelly each had two hits for the Bulldogs. Tanner Sandker, Lane Arends, Trenton Kallinowski, Braden Kelly and Seidel ended with one hit each.
Hunter Smith courtesy ran twice and scored both times. Arends drove in two while Spencer Kelly and Kallinowski each had one RBI.
Spencer Kelly, Pollock and Seidel doubled. Lane Arends tripled.
For New Haven, six of the nine hits came in the second, third and fourth sports in the lineup. Austin Madden, John Carey and Garrett Schoenfeld each recorded two hits. Andrew Schwentker, Kyle Ruediger and Blake Eggers had one hit each.
Ross Seitter, who walked twice, scored New Haven’s run. Carey had the RBI.
Madden and Schoenfeld each stole bases.
While each team had nine hits in the game, New Haven struggled to get the key hit with runners on base.
“We left a bunch of runners on and hit the ball hard on a couple of the outs,” Scheer said. “Their center fielder made a great diving catch on one play. We lined out to shortstop one time and hit the ball up the middle quite a bit. I can’t complain too much about the hitting. But getting the hit at the right time with runners on base was a little different than Monday. We just didn’t get the hit when we needed it.”
The condensed version of the game could be found in the first inning. Both teams loaded the bases, but Sturgeon was able to take advantage for three runs while New Haven was only able to score once.
Sturgeon, which was the visiting team on the coin flip, had the first chance to score. With one out, Sandker and Spencer Kelly singled. Arends followed with a walk.
Schoenfeld came back by getting William Roberts to pop out to John Duke at first base on the first pitch. And he appeared to be out of the inning when Aron Carpenter jumped on a 1-2 delivery to ground the ball to shortstop Seitter.
But the toss to second glanced off Jake Terschluse’s glove as he came over for the force. Sandker and Spencer Kelly both scored on the play and Arends wound up on third before it was over.
“That’s a huge play in the whole game,” Scheer said. “In the first inning, you get a ground ball to shortstop and a little 10- to 12-foot flip over to second base for a force-out to end the inning with no runs and no damage done. And then if we would have come back and done a good job running the bases, we could have scored two or three runs in the first inning. That play changed the whole complexion of the game. I’m not blaming anybody, but it changed the whole complexion of the game.”
Kallinowski then singled to center to make it 3-0.
Schoenfeld then struck out Brayden Kelly to end the inning, but the damage was done.
New Haven came out swinging in the bottom of the inning. Seitter coaxed a walk after a nine-pitch showdown against Seidel. Madden and Carey followed with singles to load the bases.
Seitter dashed home on a single by Schoenfeld up the middle, but Madden was thrown out trying to reach third on the play.
Schwentker followed with a walk to load the bases again with one out, but Seidel got Ruediger to fly out to center. However, Carey did not tag up at third. Eggers struck out looking to end the threat.
It was one of three innings New Haven left the bases loaded. The Shamrocks stranded 12 batters in the game.
“We made two baserunning errors,” Scheer said. “The old adage is that you never make the first out at third. We did. The outfielder bobbled the ball and Austin is an aggressive baserunner. He got thrown out and then we didn’t tag up on a fly ball. Honestly, at the end of the first inning in my book, we should have been winning by at least a run instead of being down 3-1.”
The Shamrocks only made two errors in the game to one for Sturgeon. But both errors led to multiple-run innings, meaning five of the six runs scored were unearned.
Meanwhile, Sturgeon added another run, its only earned one of the game, in the second inning. With one out, Pollock doubled to deep left field. Two batters later, Spencer Kelly doubled to left to plate Smith, the courtesy runner. Kelly was picked off to end the inning, but Sturgeon had a 4-1 lead.
Arends robbed Schoenfeld with a diving snag in the third inning.
New Haven left the sacks jammed in the fourth and fifth innings.
In the fourth, Ruediger and Eggers singled. Duke reached on a fielders’ choice on a grounder to shortstop. Sturgeon escaped on a forceout.
In the fifth, Seidel was replaced by Spencer Kelly with the bases loaded, but he was able to get the final out on a grounder back to the box.
In the sixth, Sturgeon escaped damage after dropping a pop fly in left field. The Bulldogs recovered quickly enough to get a forceout at second to end the inning on that play.
By the seventh inning, the sun was low enough on the western horizon to make balls hit to the right side of the infield into an adventure.
Seidel reached on an error to start the inning and Pollock followed with a single.
New Haven switched the battery, sending Madden to the mound and Schoenfeld behind the plate. Madden, the winning pitcher Monday while throwing over 100 pitches, struck out the next two batters before Arends lined a triple to center field to score Seidel and Smith with the final two runs.
“Austin Madden did a nice job,” Scheer said. He had an 0-2 count on the No. 4 hitter for the final out and he hung a curveball. I know he would like to have that pitch back.”
Roberts lined out to Ruediger, who made a diving catch in center, but New Haven faced a five-run deficit.
In the bottom of the seventh, Carey led off with a single and Schwentker followed with a one-out hit. But the Shamrocks could not follow that and ended up losing.
Carey, Duke, Ben Kallmeyer and Terschluse graduate from this team.
Scheer said it will be tough to replace the seniors.
“We’re going to have four spots to fill next year with kids who probably will be freshmen or sophomores,” Scheer said. “We’ve got some ability coming back, but we’ve got some spots to fill as well. Hopefully some of the young kids will develop.”
Note — For anyone interested, the game was played in Boone County. The Audrain County line was at Highway 22, which ran just behind left and center field. And many fans who came through Columbia also briefly passed into Randolph County at the intersection with U.S. 63.