Grain Valley came through in the clutch Monday night in the Class 3, District 14 semifinal matchup with the Richmond Spartans at Webb Field in Oak Grove.
The top-seeded Eagles scored 9 of their runs after two outs on the way to a 13-7 victory over the Spartans. The Eagles, ranked No. 6 in the latest Class 3 baseball coaches poll with a 16-3 record, advance to Wednesday’s final with Odessa. The Bulldogs stunned the No. 2 seed, St. Pius 10-8 in the earlier semifinal.
Richmond ends the season with a 10-8 mark and Coach Brandon Quick sees good things ahead with the loss of only two seniors – Kyle Ash and Jordan Smith. However on Monday, the Spartans could not get the Eagles to go out of an inning quietly.
“It kind of reminded me of early in the season where we had some youthful mistakes at the wrong times and we just couldn’t get out of innings,” he said. “I think a lot of it is being young and have a few jitters.”
Richmond jumped on top early with a pair of unearned runs in the top of the first as Colby Bowles reached on an error by the Grain Valley shortstop with two runners on.
However, the Eagles evened the game in the home half of the inning on Austin Gouldsmith’s two-out, 2-run triple.
The Eagles added 2 more runs in the second, and finally chased Spartan starter Josh Isgriggs from the mound with 4 more runs in the third.
Three of those came home on Ryan Skinner’s 3-run home run.
Richmond kept some hope alive with a 4-run outburst in the fourth with Ash delivering the big blow on a bases loaded triple.
Ash would come home when the throw from the outfield went into the Spartan dugout. The Eagles pulled away with 2 more runs in the fifth as Gouldsmith collected 2 more RBIs with another triple. Derek Kelton’s 2-run, 2-out single in the seventh provided the final runs for Grain Valley.
Branden Evans drove in Richmond’s final run of the season with a single in the sixth inning to chase Bowles home from second.
Richmond collected a half dozen hits in the game, but also had several hard hit balls go right to the Eagle fielders.
“Something we really improved on this year is not striking out and try to put the ball in play,” Quick said. “All you can do is hit the ball hard and hitting it right at somebody is something you can’t do a lot about.”
In addition to Ash’s triple, Richmond also got a double from Jake Vandiver, and singles from Bowles, Kyle Carroll and Corey Adkison.