Kirkwood Tigers Chasing Elite Tourney Title
The Easton Kirkwood Tigers feature several area players and the team hopes it can win the St. Louis 18U Baseball Tournament.
ST. CHARLES—After the first two days of Diamond Sports Promotions’ St. Louis 18U Championship Tournament, the four West County-based teams are 5-3.
Each has a chance of possibly advancing to the winner’s bracket games, which will be played on Sunday at Lindenwood University.
Six of the 24 teams entered in the event find themselves undefeated after two days of play.
Among the teams is the Easton Kirkwood Tigers, one of the event’s surprise teams with a 2-0 mark. The Tigers notched a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Gamers Blue team on Thursday, and a rousing 4-2 win over fellow Kirkwood-area club, the St. Louis Browns, on Friday at Lindenwood.
“We played some really good small ball, and were able to scratch out a couple scores today,” Tigers coach Jonathan Wilson said. “We knew we were going to have to scratch and claw to get runs today, with the way both teams were pitching. We came through when we had to.”
Indeed they did, especially for the Tigers’ first run, which came in the fourth inning of what had been a scoreless ballgame.
Leadoff man Jack Desloge, a senior-to-be at Kirkwood High next fall, began the inning with an infield hit, and eventually came around to score, following a sacrifice bunt by teammate Max Hirbe, and an RBI groundout by Zach McKenney.
Another Kirkwood senior-to-be, Ryan Bearden, played a key role in the Tigers’ next turn at-bat.
He smacked a double into the right-field corner that sent teammate Tim Keathley to third. Bearden then took third himself while Keathley scored on a Browns wild pitch.
Two batters later, Brian Perez drove Bearden in with a line-shot single that gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
The Browns rallied in the top of the fifth, thanks to back-to-back leadoff singles by recent high school grads Ryan Snyder (Vianney) and Sean Keeney (Oakville), who both advanced a base when a third 2011 high school grad, Matt Seevers (Marquette), walked to load the bases.
A wild pitch and an RBI sacrifice fly later and the score was 3-2, with the Browns surging.
But that was as close as they would get as catcher/designated hitter John Williams iced the game away for the Tigers with a two-run single that scored Desloge and Hirbe. That provided Kirkwood with the cushion it needed to secure the win.
Ladue High senior-to-be Jason Sandler got the win on the mound after tossing six fantastic innings, allowing just two runs on four hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
“He threw great,” Wilson said. “He threw strikes and let the defense do the work.”
With two victories and no losses, Kirkwood goes into the final day of pool play in fourth place in the tournament standings. It will need to secure itself one more win on Saturday to earn a berth in the semifinals.
That sets up a big game for the Tigers on Saturday night at Blanchette Park, where Kirkwood will take on the 1-1 St. Louis Tigers.
If things break right for the Browns, they could also secure one of the semifinal slots. They would need some help to reach the semis, but most important is that the Browns need a win themselves in their Saturday afternoon matchup against the Gamers Blue team in a game that will be played at Parkway Central High.
Two other West County-based teams with chances to reach the tournament semifinals are the two St. Louis Recruits teams.
Both are 1-1 after two days, and like the Browns, could secure a semifinals berth with a win and some help.
The Recruits 18U team, which suffered a bitter 9-1 loss to the Midwest Chiefs at Lindenwood on Friday, will play BNBA Gold, a top-notch club from Bloomington, IL, Saturday afternoon at Blanchette Park.
The Recruits 16U team, which lost in walk-off fashion to the Missouri Bucks on Thursday morning, bounced back to win with a walk-off hit against the Gamers Gray team on Thursday night. They will play one of the early games on Saturday, against the Southern Illinois Bullets at Parkway Central.
The schedule for Sunday will be set following Saturday’s action.
Here’s a look at what games are on tap for Saturday:
Saturday, July 2
At Parkway Central
9:00 a.m. – St. Louis Recruits 16U (1-1) vs. Southern Illinois Bullets (1-1)
11:30 a.m. – Missouri Bucks (1-1) vs. St. Louis Gamers Gray (1-1)
2:00 p.m. – St. Louis Games Blue (1-1) vs. St. Louis Browns (1-1)
4:30 p.m. – Trailblazers Baseball (1-0) vs. Team Mizuno Midwest (1-0)
At C&H Park
9:00 a.m. – Team Mizuno Midwest (1-0) vs. Rawlings Tigers (0-2)
11:30 a.m. – St. Louis Cougars (1-1) vs. Trailblazers Baseball (1-0)
2:00 p.m. – St. Louis Sox (2-0) vs. KC Wildcats (1-1)
4:30 p.m. – Hitmen (1-1) vs. Southside Baseball Club (0-2)
7:00 p.m. – Missouri Outlaws (0-2) vs. Knights of Under Armour (0-2)
At Blanchette Park
2:00 p.m. – St. Louis Recruits 18U (1-1) vs. BNBA Gold (2-0)
4:30 p.m. – Easton Kirkwood Tigers (2-0) vs. Easton St. Louis Tigers (1-1)