Despite Weather-Shortened Season NCCS Baseball Wins MCSAA Title
By Jim Wieners
North County Christian School was to play a 12-game Baseball schedule but inclement weather limited the Crusaders to play three games during the season prior to the Missouri Christian State Athletic Association post-season tournament.
While the MCSAA Baseball Tournament opened May 2 in Joplin with first round games and a consolation game North County Christian had a first-round bye in the seven-team event. However snow fell in Joplin on May 3-4 wiping out games scheduled for those days including championship semifinals, third place and title time.
Three of the four teams that were to play in the MCSAA Semifinals are from the St. Louis area, NCCS, Christian Academy of Greater St. Louis and Tower Grove Christian, all Two River Christian Activities Association rivals. So CAGSL and Tower Grove Christian played their MCSAA Semifinal game May 7 at Harris Stowe State University with CAGSL winning. Meanwhile Plaza Heights Christian decided to come to the St. Louis area in cars and SUVs and played NCCS at McCluer High May 13 with NCCS winning 8-6 then to save the cost of an overnight stay Plaza Heights stayed to play Tower Grove who won the third place game, 8-6.
NCCS win over Plaza Heights was the first game played by NCCS in four weeks because of the wet spring and the MCSAA semifinal game was called in the fifth inning because of a two-hour limit so Plaza Heights can play one more game and get it done before sunset. The NCCS-Plaza Heights game started minutes after McCluer students were being dismissed for the day.
After spotting Plaza Heights a first-inning run NCCS scored four in their half of the first, added a run in the second and third innings and two more in the fourth while Plaza Heights scored three in the third and two in the fifth before the game was called official. Colin Elliott, Clayton Wright and Wyatt Harmon (as a courtesy runner for catcher Brian Baure) each scored two runs while Tony Lanzone, on a first inning double, and Russell Keating each drove in two.
One day Later, May 8 at Harris Stowe, NCCS overcame deficits of 4-0 and 9-2 to win 13-12 over CAGSL thanks to a six-run fifth and a five run seventh. It was a rematch of last year’s MCSAA title game that took nine innings instead of seven but NCCS secured their second straight MCSAA title.
NCCS had 10 batters in the seventh and Lanzone, who led off with a walk and scored the first run; hit the ball past first base with two outs and the bases loaded driving in Elliott, who scored four runs on three hits including a double. Lanzone, who pitched the first three innings and struck out four but allowed four first inning runs, had an RBI triple in the first inning. Elliott, who pitched the final four innings in relief to get the win, struggled in the fourth inning as CAGSL scored four times.
“That was the toughest thing,” said first-year NCCS head coach Rick Nolte. “They were rusty (after not playing for four weeks) but their hearts were still in the game.” NCCS got back in the game in the fifth with six runs as 10 batters came up to cut the CAGSL lead to 9-8. CAGSL, who scored a run in the second, scored another in the sixth and two more in the seventh but NCCS, who scored a run in the first and third innings, rallied in the seventh to win and ended up with only a weather-shortened 5-0 finish.
“Just really proud of them,” Nolte said. “We kept getting better.”
MSHSAA–HAZELWOOD WEST WON CLASS FIVE, DISTRICT SIX at the Hazelwood Sports Complex, defeating Hazelwood East 12-2, called in the fifth inning, and won 1-0 over Hazelwood Central. Hazelwood West, 17-3 prior to May 21, got four strikeouts against Hazelwood East from Dylan Fiordimondo, who scored three runs while Connor Manis drove in three. Against Hazelwood Central Devin Williams struck out 14 while Teddy Molinari drove in Kyle Porter with a third-inning single.
LUTHERAN NORTH WON CLASS THREE, DISTRICT FIVE at home by defeating Cardinal Ritter 13-3 in five innings and Orchard Farm 8-7 for their 16th district title. Lutheran North (11-14 prior to May 20) had three players — Evan Dalton, Jesse Guffey and Ethan Wallace — each driving in three runs against Cardinal Ritter. Meanwhile Conner Buenger struck out 12 Orchard Farm batters while driving in three runs.
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