With a win Monday over Priory, Borgia has reached the game it has been looking at all season.
The second-seeded Knights (15-6) overcame a pair of one-run deficits to defeat third-seeded Priory 4-3 Monday in the semifinals of the Class 4 District 4 Baseball Tournament.
Borgia will take on top-seeded Westminster (28-3) in the district championship game Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Ronsick Field.
“We played outstanding defense, had a great pitching performance from Matt Jones and got enough done offensively,” Borgia Head Coach Rob Struckhoff said about the Priory game. “We played great defense at short and third by Grant Eckelkamp and Jacob Haskins. We couldn’t get that leadoff batter on. We played more small ball than we usually do because I thought three or four runs would win the game.”
Matt Jones pitched all seven innings for Borgia to earn the win. He allowed three runs on six hits with one walk and nine strikeouts.
“Jones was solid. He hit his spots. They battled pretty well against him and had some good at-bats. Their bottom did more damage than their top,” Struckhoff said. “Whether he’s pitching or catching, Jones is a great competitor. He always gives 100 percent.”
Southpaw Charles Lohmann pitched the entire game for the Rebels. He allowed four runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
“We took some bad at-bats against him,” Struckhoff said. “We’ve had some poor BPs (batting practice) in the last couple days of practice. A couple of guys turned them into home run derbies. We got on them about staying gap-to-gap, but some guys didn’t make the adjustments.”
Priory (8-14) took a 1-0 lead with a run in the top of the second inning.
Borgia tied the game in the bottom of the second. Noah Borgerding doubled, went to third base on a bunt by Jacob Haskins and scored on an RBI groundout by Spencer Juergens.
After Priory took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning, the Knights responded with two runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Mitchell Hammack and Grant Eckelkamp both had RBI singles to give Borgia a 3-2 lead.
The Knights made the score 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning on a squeeze bunt by Hammack, scoring Michael Kren, who was running for Justin Baylard.
“That was a big play. Baylard got on, (Nate) Hillermann moved him over and Hammack did a great job getting the bunt down,” Struckhoff said. “Hammack had another big hit to score a run early in the game. I was very happy with how he played.”
The squeeze play was crucial as Priory scored a run in the top of the seventh inning and had the tying run on base, but couldn’t pull even.
Borgerding was 2-3 at the plate with two doubles for Borgia.
Nate Hillermann (double) and Jones both had one hit and one walk.
Hammack added one hit and two RBIs. Eckelkamp had one hit and one RBI. Juergens had one RBI.
Westminster is the two-time defending Class 3 state champions.
The top-seeded Wildcats defeated Pacific Monday in the semifinals in five innings, 10-0.
Westminster’s three losses have come against Hickman 4-2, Parkway Central 4-3 and defending Class 4 state champion Rockwood Summit, 9-8.
The Wildcats bring a 13-game winning streak into the contest. They have not allowed more than three runs in any of those 13 games.
“It should be a good matchup. Hopefully we’ll be up to the task and compete with them,” Struckhoff said. “They’re a tough team. They have a lot of athletes who play hard. They come to play.”
Tony Helfrich will start on the mound for Borgia. He’s 4-0 with a 0.37 earned-run average. In 38 innings, he’s allowed four runs, two earned, on 24 hits with four walks and 46 strikeouts.
“I’ll take our chances with Tony. He’s what you’d call a crafty righty,” Struckhoff said. “He’s going to have to hit his spots. You can’t miss your spots against these guys.”
Westminster figures to go with its southpaw senior ace, Ben Lovell.
Lovell, who will pitch at Belmont University, is 7-0 with a 1.50 ERA. In 56 innings, he’s allowed 17 runs, 12 earned, on 40 hits with 15 walks and 56 strikeouts.
“It seems like Lovell has been there forever, but I’ve never seen him pitch. We’ve haven’t played them since I’ve been here,” Struckhoff said. “We’ve faced a ton of lefties. This is a different kind of lefty. He’s not going to be throwing 70 miles per hour. It’s going to be in the 80s. We saw a lefty who threw hard against St. Dominic and hit him pretty hard. We saw the lefty from St. Mary’s , so we’ve seen some good lefties.”
The Wildcats’ top offensive player is junior shortstop Shane Benes, who has a batting average of .452 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs.