Aggressive Burroughs Douses MICDS at Busch on Red-Hot Day
Relief work by seniors Nick Beaulick and Spencer Beyersdorfer, along with skillful baserunning, help Bombers hold off Rams for 4-2 win.
Maybe it was the immense excitement of playing at the home of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, or maybe it was because the opposing starting pitcher was absolutely dynamite at the start of the game.
But whatever the reason, it was clear the John Burroughs varsity baseball team just wasn't its usual self for the first half of Sunday's Busch Stadium Showdown game against archrival MICDS.
Fortunately though, the fifth inning came and the Bombers finally woke up and delivered some of the scintillating defense and baserunning they'd shown all season, and eventually overtook the overheated Rams, for a 4-2 win that was extremely satisfying to head coach Andy Katzman.
"I tell you, that felt good," Katzman said, after sharing hugs with nearly every player on the club and several fans and well-wishers in the Busch Stadium crowd.
"I'm especially excited for our seniors. We played all our seniors today, and this'll be a memory they'll have and talk about for the rest of their lives. Especially after they (MICDS) handed us a really tough loss down here last year. I'm glad my seniors get to go out with a win here."
Victory for Burroughs didn't seem certain at all, especially in the first four innings, when the Bombers went 12 straight batters, after a leadoff hit by senior Nathan Adams, without getting anyone on base.
That was because MICDS starter Adam Putnam was virtually unhittable.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior struck out four Bomber batters, and produced four other weak groundball outs to completely stymie the Burroughs hitters.
And Putnam even had a 1-0 lead thanks to a first inning rally produced by the Rams, but he couldn't make it last, after Burroughs led off the fifth inning with a pair of leadoff hits by senior Nick Beaulick and freshman Dwight Sutter.
Those two advanced to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by senior Sam Hefler, then both scored on consecutive wild pitches by Putnam, that suddenly gave Burroughs a 2-1 lead.
"That's kind of how it's been for us all season," Katzman said. "We try to be real aggressive and do some things on the basepaths. Right there, we we're able to take advantage of a couple of passed balls. But that's a good team over there, we had to battle hard just to get guys in position to score on a ball that might've gotten away."
An inning later, Burroughs produced a run in a more conventional manner, when Adams led off with a screamer into the left-field gap that he somehow turned into a double.
Teammate Davey Holmes singled Adams to third, and then both players advanced, with Adams scoring on a groundball to the right side by sophomore Jake Wood.
Holmes eventually scored when MICDS uncorked another wild pitch that made the score 4-1, despite Burroughs only amassing five hits the whole day.
"That's a testament to these kids getting it done when they had to," Katzman said. "I think every guy we got in scoring position wound up scoring today. That's an excellent job by these kids of battling, and doing their jobs when they get their chance."
Having only five hits didn't matter so much, because the Burroughs pitchers only allowed MICDS six hits, and only two in the middle four innings of the game.
Burroughs starter Amos Shinkle got into some bad trouble in the first inning, and only lasted through two innings, before he was relieved by the senior Beaulick.
The Burroughs righthander, who would eventually get his team-leading fourth win of the season, with no losses, was the pitching star of the day, as he went 3 2/3 innings, and only allowed one run against a usually potent MICDS lineup.
Beaulick also struck out four and produced a sensational double play that helped Burroughs get out of a jam in the fourth inning.
It's possible that play is the one that sparked the Bombers to their lead-taking rally the next time they came to bat in the fifth.
"That's what I love about this team," Katzman said. "These guys pick each other up. And they root for each other and help each other. They're a bunch of great kids, and especially these seniors, I'm just so proud of all of them."
Beaulick did get touched for a run in the bottom of the sixth, when MICDS senior Jackson Myer launched a shot that one-hopped the left-field wall and scored teammate Jack Rouse.
That brought pinch-hitter Colby Klar to the plate, and forced Katzman to bring in closer Spencer Beyersdorfer, who struck out Klar and then got a groundball out to end the inning, and quash MICDS' last real chance to tie the score.
Beyersdorfer got the final three outs in easy order in the seventh, to close out an emotional win for Katzman and his Bombers.
"We had to play 11 innings (on Saturday) against Priory in all that heat, and we won," Katzman said. "Then to come out here, in a big game against our rivals, and win this one too. That gets me very excited about what this team can do."
Burroughs has now won two in a row for the first time in two weeks, and now boasts an 11-7 record heading into the final week of the regular season.
MICDS, which was once the No. 1-ranked small school team in the area, is now 7-9, but has two regular season games left to possibly even its record, before the start of the district playoffs on Saturday.