Bruins down Waynesville in sectional win

Junior Avery Jennings works from the wind up against Battle. Photo by Graham Ratermann.

Junior Avery Jennings works from the wind up against Battle. Photo by Graham Ratermann.

John Flanegin

Senior Joe Barbee’s leadoff triple would serve not only as the beginning of a state sectional playoff game, but also as a sign of times to come for the visiting Waynesville Tigers, a team that the 28-5 RBHS baseball team would dismantle 10-2 in front of a standing-room only, vocal crowd on the Bruin’s home field tuesday night. Despite playing host to WHS, the Bruins were dubbed the visitors after the coin toss, a tradition synonymous with postseason play in high school baseball, pitting RBHS as the first team to enter the batter’s box.
Barbee’s triple would be quickly capitalized on when he made his 90 foot journey home from third after senior Connor Brumfield popped up a deep fly, resulting in an error by the Waynesville center fielder. Junior Cole Evans would later plate one after a RBI single leading to both a 2-0 Bruin advantage after the top of the first and a thrilled group of home team fans.
“It [the atmosphere] was awesome,” Senior shortstop and pitcher Logan Twehous said. “As a player it gives you a lot of energy. It also makes the game more enjoyable when there is a ton of energy, and when something happens it’s awesome to hear everyone.”
But the fan’s cheers would soon turn from thunderous yells to maddening silence when RBHS’ lead was tested in the bottom of the first as junior pitcher Carson England saw himself in a jam with the bases loaded. After a double and fielder’s choice the Tigers would even the score at 2 as the two squads headed into the second. England came out stronger than ever in the second however pitching a 1-2-3 inning with the Bruins once again in command after an Avery Jennings sac-fly gave England a one run cushion.
“I really just tried to fill up the zone, pitch to contact and let my fielders make plays for me,” England said. “I just wanted to go out and be loose and just pitch.”
And loose he was, consistently getting himself out of tough situations and keeping the Tigers at bay with a measly two runs. Senior catcher and Rockhurst University commit Eric Kuse was on the receiving end of England’s pitches with the pair working as a dynamic duo constantly shifting locations and pitches to stump hitters and keep the Bruin lead intact.
“I just try to attack spots with their fastballs and let hitters get themselves up,” Kuse said, “and then mix in off-speed [pitches] to keep them off balance.”
Through four RBHS lead 7-2, receiving contributions by way of RBI from Twehous and Evans and Waynesville errors that plated both Brumfield and junior Curtis Holliday. The drubbing wouldn’t end there either as Taten Lyngstad would bring home one on a fielder’s choice followed by Senior Matt Widhalm scoring two after a single in the top of the seventh, giving the Bruins a comfortable 10-2 lead. Three outs later RBHS would be celebrating their sectional win and their second straight trip to the state quarterfinal game, two games out of a chance to repeat as state champions.
For senior Twehous the ride will soon end whether as a repeat champion or not, with the Washburn commit knowing each game could be his last in a green and gold jersey.
“We [the seniors] try to prepare the same every game,” Twehous said. “We just know we have to be more urgent with everything we do.”
That urgency will be felt when RBHS matches up with the Kickapoo Chiefs tomorrow on Rock Bridge field in the state quarterfinal.
“They’re solid all around so we need to execute pitches,” Kuse said, “as well as hit mistakes, limit our strikeouts at the plate, play defense, and have fun.”
By: John Flanegin
Photo by: Graham Ratermann