Westminster Wins Back To Back Class 3 State Championships
Sat June 2, 2012
Reported by Jack Witthaus
The defending Class 3 State champions did it again. The Westminster Wildcats captured their 26th game in a row, blowing past the Lutheran South Lancers for the State crown, 10-4.
The back-to-back State championship wins was the first time in Class 3 since Webb City did it in 2005-2006.
Westminster's offense dominated the entire game, registering 15 hits. Six Wildcat batters had multi hit performances.
In the first inning alone, Westminster tagged South's soft throwing starter Ryan Strohm for seven runs on nine hits. Wildcats center fielder Tate Matheny led the charge with a single and a triple in the frame, scoring once and driving in two runs.
Second baseman Connor Larson also brought home two runs on a single. On the day, Larson went two for three with one RBI.
"I think our guys were ready," head coach Rich Van Gilst said. "When we lost the coin toss, I said, 'Well, we get to hit first.' And they said, 'Yes!' And they certainly did."
The Wildcats also brought two runs home in the fourth inning. Shortstop Shane Benes started the inning by reaching on an error, and would reach on an error twice in the contest. Benes later scored on a sharply hit double down the third base line by catcher Brett Bond. Larson sacrificed to right field to score first baseman Connor Einerston.
Third baseman Luke Turner scored the final Wildcat run on an Einerston triple. Einerston went two for three with two runs and an RBI.
After the 14th Westminster hit, a Luke Turner double, Strohm was lifted. Strohm gave up 10 runs, nine earned, and struck out one.
It looked like the Lancers had flopped offensively after a lone run in the third. However, South put together a rally in the bottom of the sixth, scoring three runs on five hits and knocking out Wildcat's starter Ben Lovell. Substitute second baseman Dirk Otterstein grabbed two RBI's on a towering double.
Lovell, the winning pitcher, hurled five innings, allowed four runs on eight hits and struck out five.
Wildcat reliever Ben Mitchell quelled the sixth inning rally with four strikeouts and one walk. Mitchell's final strikeout ended the ballgame, resulting in a dog pile on top of the mound.
"Words can't describe the feeling," Matheny said, who believed that yesterday's come-from-behind victory gave Westminster confidence. "This was our goal from day one. We knew if we played well and played hard everyday, this is what we would get. And we did."