Baseball once again winners in state finals rematch


Senior Joe Barbee slides into third on March 14th against Hickman during a scrimmage in the annual Jamboree.

John Flanegin

The Rock Bridge baseball team (22-2) last met the Francis Howell Vikings 11 months ago on June 6th in the Class 5A state championship at TR Hughes Ballpark in O’Fallon, MO, taking home their first ever state title, 9-6. Despite the removal of high school baseball’s most coveted hardware up for grabs, RBHS did just as they have done for much of the season, putting on an offensive clinic and notching a 9-3 win yesterday on the Vikings’ home diamond in St. Charles.
Senior center fielder and University of Missouri commit Connor Brumfield was an integral part of last year’s title winning team, and saw some major differences in not only today’s game but in their opponent’s new lineup, allowing for a much more relaxed, calm matchup.
“Today was a walk in the park compared to the championship game,” Brumfield said. “Their team was much better last year so it wasn’t anywhere near the game it was last year.”
And a stroll it was for Nick Wohlbold, who received the start on the mound for the number one ranked Class 5A bruins according to The sophomore dealt early, pitching a shutout through his first five innings. Senior pitcher and shortstop Logan Twehous views the underclassmen as a great asset to this year’s team.
“He’s a big arm and when he’s on he’s really good,” Twehous said. “He also adds depth when I pitch or there is an injury.”
Despite Francis Howell’s deep playoff run in the 2013-14 season they are not the state runner-up they were a year ago. The vikings were unable to find an answer for the hard throwing Wohlbold after losing a large part of their lineup to graduation including outfielder Elijah Dilday who is now at the University of Nebraska.
“They’re still a really solid team all around, but I’d say their biggest difference was their bats,” senior catcher Eric Kuse said. “They still have some guys that can swing it well and fly the ball over the wall, but not nearly as many as last year.”
Wohlbold received due compensation for his efforts yesterday with the bruins bringing home 7 runs in the top of the fourth off of five RBIs, senior Joe Barbee’s bases loaded walk, and the help of two errors by the viking’s defense. Scoring a high number of runs has been the squad’s bread and butter this year, as the reigning state champs have outscored opponents 203-64 in a span of just 24 games.
“Our coaches teach us to be aggressive when we see our pitch and go attack the baseball,” Kuse said. “I think if we’re able to get the first few guys on in an inning it kind of feeds to the other guys and then we are a dangerous team.”
While it almost seems impossible, this year’s side has looked exceptionally better than its predecessor, boasting the school’s best start to a season in RBHS’s history. With over 90% of the average Varsity lineup being upperclassmen, Twehous believes it is the unit’s experience that has provided for such a remarkable season.
“…We have all played in the big games and no moment is too big,” Twehous said. “We never get rattled and know we can come back from anything.”
However, a comeback was not needed despite the vikings plating two runs in the bottom of the sixth, scathing the bruin’s lead to 7-2, with Junior Taten Lyngstad answering in the top of the seventh hitting a two run single that provided insurance to his club’s already large lead. Francis Howell would earn a run in the final half inning of the game in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t mount a revival, giving RBHS their 22nd win of the season.
Even with their nearly flawless record and large run advantage Twehous still only has one thing on his mind.
“Getting the first seed in districts. If we can win our next two games vs Jeff City and Hickman we will be able to accomplish that.”
By John Flanegin
Photo by Bri Arnett