Washington was three outs away from reaching the championship game of the Class 4 District 4 Baseball Tournament, but couldn’t nail down the final out.
The sixth-seeded Blue Jays took a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning in the semifinals Monday night at Ballwin Athletic Association, but second-seeded Lafayette scored four runs in the frame to win the game, 6-5.
Lafayette (23-9-1) lost to top-seeded Parkway South (23-7) in the championship game Tuesday.
Washington ended Eureka’s (19-7) season for the second time in the last three seasons Saturday at Eureka High School, 2-0.
Southpaw Jared Walde was in control throughout the contest to earn the win on the mound.
Walde pitched all seven innings for the shutout. He allowed five hits, two walks and hit one batter while registering four strikeouts.
“It’s by far the best game I’ve ever pitched. I wanted it so bad. No one thought we were going to win this game except our team,” Walde said. “I knew this was a big game and I needed to be ready. I looked them up and they’re all good hitters. I wanted to get them off-balance with my off-speed pitches. I was just trying to keep them off-balance and make them guess.”
Washington’s defense made plays behind Walde.
“Jared had command of all of his pitches. He worked inside and outside,” said Washington Head Coach Bray. “Jared, just like any other kid on our team, isn’t going to strike out eight, nine, 10 guys. We’re going to pitch to contact, hopefully avoid walks and let our defense play. This is a great field to play on, so there shouldn’t be any bad hops. We made every play we needed to.
“It was Jared Walde and our defense making plays. When they did get hits, we didn’t compound the problem with errors. Our kids made the plays they needed to make. That’s what we’ve been preaching to them all year.”
Walde also gave credit to WHS catcher Derek Walters.
“Derek and I have played baseball since we were in fourth grade, so we have great chemistry together,” Walde said. “I could have gone another inning if I needed to. Once the fifth inning started, I knew I was good. I knew I had enough in the tank to go all the way.”
The Blue Jays (11-13) scored single runs in the top of the fourth and fifth innings off Eureka lefty Adam Schnurbusch.
Mike McGilvray then laid down a squeeze bunt, which scored Brock Hopkins to make the score 1-0.
“We took a shot at it. Mike got something he could handle and got it down,” Bray said. “Hopkins took off at the right time. It just worked out for us.”
In the top of the fifth, Dilan Bollmann singled with two outs. Hopkins then hit a line drive to right field, which got past the right fielder and to the wall after a diving attempt, allowing Bollmann to score and Hopkins to reach on a triple.
“We didn’t dominate hitting the ball. But we got hits when we needed them,” Bray said. “I didn’t feel that two runs were going to be enough. After the sixth inning, I asked Jared how he felt. He said he wanted the seventh. He deserved it.”
Washington outhit Eureka, 6-5.
Hopkins (one triple) and Pete Coulter each finished with two hits. Hopkins added one RBI and one run.
Bollmann singled and scored. Luke Hasenjaeger added one hit. Dustin Howard was hit by a pitch. McGilvray had one RBI.
“One thing I can say about this group is all 20 kids who I have on this district roster are here for each other,” Bray said. “We haven’t had one problem with arguing or complaining. Everyone has accepted their role. They’re in it together.”
Lafayette rallied with four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to top Washington in the semifinals, 6-5.
“I thought we did everything we needed to do. I told the kids before the game that I’ve heard from four or five different coaches to not let the (Bill) DuPont kid beat you,” said Washington Head Coach Scott Bray. “With second and third, we decided to put him on base to have the force out anywhere. I don’t think there’s a coach who would go against that. His last at bat he hit it 398 feet. I think we had to put him on. From there, it just comes down to execution.”
Leading 5-3, the Blue Jays intentionally walked DuPont, the Lancers’ best hitter, to load the bases with two outs.
A walk followed by a balk tied the game, 5-5.
Lafayette then won the game on an RBI single by Nick Burdell.
Washington broke a 2-2 tie with three runs in the top of the seventh inning.
Four consecutive singles by Howard, Walde, Coulter and McGilvray accounted for the three runs.
“The kids didn’t want one run. We wanted a crooked number,” Bray said. “That’s the thinking we’ve had for the past 10 games.”
Lafayette took a 2-0 lead with two runs in the bottom of the third inning.
Washington tied the game with single runs in the top of the fourth and fifth innings. Luke Hasenjaeger and Howard had RBI singles.
Hasenjaeger pitched the first five innings for the Blue Jays in a no-decision. He allowed two runs on seven hits with one walk and one strikeout.
Howard worked the final 1.2 frames. After striking out the side in the sixth inning, he ran into some control issues in the seventh. He allowed four runs on one hit with five walks (two intentional) and four strikeouts.
“I was expecting Luke to go three or four innings and he gave me five strong,” Bray said. “Dustin was the guy I wanted there. The guy has been coming in and closing games all year. That’s the guy I wanted. We had the situation we wanted with a three-run lead.”
Matt Goro pitched the first 6.2 innings for Lafayette. Eric Moser and Pate Williams pitched in relief.
Washington out hit Lafayette, 11-8.
McGilvray led the way with three hits (two doubles) and two RBIs.
Howard and Hasenjaeger both added two hits and one RBI. Hasenjaeger also walked.
Phil Straatmann, Hopkins, Walde and Coulter each had one hit. Coulter added one RBI. Walde also reached on an error and was hit by a pitch. Bollmann reached on an error twice.
“We lose four seniors. Those kids did a lot for us,” Bray said. “I think we’re starting to believe that these kids can play some ball.”