OZARK, MO – The Excelsior Springs Tigers baseball team fought valiantly in the MSHSAA Final Four, showcasing their skills and determination on the field. Despite a heart-wrenching loss in their first matchup against the Springfield Catholic Irish, the Tigers bounced back the next day to secure a thrilling victory against the Fulton Hornets, clinching third place overall in the championships.
In their opening game on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, at the Sky Bacon Stadium in Ozark, the Tigers faced off against the formidable Springfield Catholic Irish. Both teams entered the game with high hopes and a burning desire to advance to the championship game. However, it was the Irish who struck first, capitalizing on an error by the Tigers to take an early lead of 2-0 in the first inning.
The Tigers refused to back down and quickly fought back in the second inning. Cooper Collins’ single to left field brought in two runs, leveling the score at 2-2. The game remained tight and intense, with exceptional pitching and defensive plays from both teams. Despite their best efforts, the Tigers were unable to break the tie, and the game headed into extra innings.
In the eighth inning, the Springfield Catholic Irish managed to push across the winning run, taking the victory with a final score of 3-2. It was a tough loss for the Tigers, but they displayed great perseverance throughout the matchup.
Undeterred by their defeat, the Tigers returned to the field on the next day, this time facing the Fulton Hornets in the battle for third place. The Tigers knew they had to bounce back quickly and finish the tournament on a positive note.
The game started with a strong defensive effort from both teams, resulting in a scoreless first inning. However, the Fulton Hornets took the initiative in the third inning, capitalizing on errors by the Tigers to score three unearned runs.
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the third inning, with Broc Dusek’s single bringing in two runs, narrowing the gap to 3-2. The game remained tense as both teams fought tooth and nail to gain the upper hand.
The Tigers’ pitchers faced tough challenges from the resilient Fulton Hornets. In the 4th inning, starting pitcher Kaelan Bedford handed the ball to Brayden Lewis, who pitched 1.2 innings before turning things over to senior, Brendan Blackburn who took the mound to finish strong in the 7th inning.
In the fourth inning, the Tigers surged ahead, capitalizing on errors by the Hornets to score three runs. Colson Moore’s single brought in a crucial run, giving the Tigers a 5-3 lead.
The game continued to be a nail-biter, with both teams refusing to back down. The Hornets managed to score runs in both the 5th and 6th innings, bringing the score to 5-5. However, the Tigers held their ground, with strong pitching and resilient defense.
As the game entered the seventh and final inning, the Tigers knew they had to make a final attack. With the bases loaded and the game tied, Kaelan Bedford stepped up to the plate and delivered a clutch hit, bringing in the winning run and securing a hard-fought victory for the Tigers with a final score of 6-5.
The Tigers showcased their resilience, resolve, and exceptional teamwork throughout the MSHSAA Final Four. Despite a heartbreaking loss in their first matchup, they came back the next day with unwavering focus and secured a well-deserved third-place finish overall.
*Thank you to Tim Harlan for his tireless efforts to support the students of ESHS by documenting their activities through photographs. Check out all of his great work at Harlan’s ESHS Activities Shots.