Eagles Reach Sectional for Second Year . . .

The umpires meet with team captains and head coaches before the game. For Brentwood it was (from left) Coach Mike Imergoot, Kevin Smith and Tyler Jones. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit

The question for fans of the Brentwood High School baseball team last week was which team would show up to the Class 2 sectional championship at South Callaway. The team that had dominated Valley Park and Crossroads in the district tournament and had won nine of its last 10 games? Or the team that had lost four games in a row in mid-April by a combined score of 35-7 and had ended the regular season with a 12-2 loss to Priory?

Tyler Jones, Ryan Vogeli and Connor Hancock (behind Vogeli) warm up before the game. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

It took only about two innings to find out against South Callaway. Brentwood combined shaky pitching with shoddy infield defense to surrender six runs in the second inning and five more runs in the next three to lose 11-0.

While the Eagles, 15-9, quietly rode back home with their season over, the Bulldogs, now 17-5, went on to destroy Schuyler County 19-2 in a state quarterfinal. Having outscored their past five opponents 48-6, they’ll play Clever on May 30 in a Class 2 semifinal.

“You don’t dwell on losses, you dwell on positives,” said Brentwood coach Mike Imergoot. “Nobody likes to lose like that. They know they didn’t play well so you don’t even have to talk about it. Our seniors set a very high standard for this team. They won two district championships out of four years and that’s a good record, so these other guys have something to live up to, right?”

It’s not shocking that Brentwood committed seven errors against South Callaway. The 2012 Eagles often played with a three-sophomore infield and two of them began the season with no varsity experience. Toward the end of the game even the veterans were committing errors, perhaps shaken by the lopsided score.

Brentwood Coach Mike Imergoot talks to his players before the game, including Tyler Jones (left) and Dylan McGehee. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

More surprising was the pitching performance of senior Kevin Smith. He had pitched wonderfully in his previous outing, a 2-1 victory over Barat Academy six days earlier. He had struck out 14, surrendered only two hits and had been clocked five times throwing 90 miles per hour.

But against South Callaway he wasn’t the same old Kevin. In almost four innings of work he gave up seven hits, seven earned runs and four walks.

“Sometimes a pitcher has his stuff and sometimes he doesn’t,” said the former pitcher Imergoot.

Smith got in trouble early but recovered. In the first inning he gave up a leadoff single to Hunter Leeper before walking two batters in a row. But with the bases loaded he threw out Leeper at home and then coolly struck out Bradley Smart with the bases loaded.

Kevin Smith eyes a runner at first base before delivering a pitch in the second inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Brentwood countered in the first inning with base hits by Smith and Dylan McGehee, but both were left stranded.

Then came the devastating second inning. South Callaway’s Jason Kimmanau singled and moved to second when Smith overthrew first base. Kimmanau then scored when Mitch Williams’ infield hit got by shortstop Eric Vogeli. That first run seemed to shake Smith, as he walked the next three batters to make it  2-0.

The Bulldogs then scored a run with each of their next four batters. Ben Seitz scored from third on a passed ball at home plate. Hunter Leeper raced home on a fly ball that was caught by Danny Lynch in center field. Konrad Kemper’s base hit scored Dax Helsel from third. Mason Shoemaker made it 6-0 on Smith Kemper’s infield single.

Brentwood desperately needed to counter offensively in the second and third innings. But the Eagles managed only a base hit by Jake Caragher and a walk by Smith. The situation looked bleak in the third after Leeper’s back-to-back strikeouts of Dylan McGehee and Jesse Sneed. After all, McGehee’s batting average of .594 makes him one of the best hitters in the St. Louis area.

Brentwood continued to unravel defensively in the fourth inning as South Callaway struck for four more runs. Sneed replaced Smith on the mound and finished his high school career by giving up only one hit in just over an inning of work.

Three Brentwood players ended up getting one hit apiece: Caragher, Smith and McGehee.

Imergoot didn’t have a detailed explanation for why Brentwood was flat both offensively and defensively.

“We’re just tight today, we didn’t execute,” he said. “If you don’t have it you have to overcome those things. If your pitching is off, your defense has to be airtight, and we weren’t. We weren’t selective at the plate. We got behind so quickly and it’s tough to catch up. When you’re down 8-0, 10-0, you start losing concentration. “

Imergoot met with his team in the outfield before boarding the bus to return to Brentwood.

“I thanked each one of them individually,” he said. “When you have these kinds of games you focus on positives. You don’t dwell on negatives because you can’t do anything about it. You look at the good things you did. We’ve won 10 out of our last 12 ball games. We won 15 ball games when I didn’t think we’d win 10. I thought if we broke even we’d be good. I didn’t think we had a shot of winning the district. Kevin and those guys just carried us and we all played well.  I’ve got nothing but high marks for them. I’m proud of these guys. You lose one ball game. We’ll start next year again.”

In fact, on the BHS baseball team’s website is the announcement that “Practice begins February 25 . . .”

Umpires and Brentwood coaches and players stand at attention for the “Star-Spangled Banner” before the game. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Danny Lynch eyes a pitch in the first inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Third baseman Ryan Vogeli attempts to throw out a runner at first base in the opening inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
First baseman Dylan McGehee fields a ball in the second inning and flips it to pitcher Kevin Smith who is covering first base. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Shortstop Eric Vogeli throws hard to first base to put out a runner in the second inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Second baseman Jake Caragher throws out a runner at first base in the second inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Assistant Coach Jon Kalb gives pitcher Kevin Smith a pep talk immediately after the second inning, when Smith and his teammates gave up six runs. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Link to more photos from the game: https://thebrentwoodspirit.com/featured/but-fall-flat-in-11-0-loss-to-south-callaway/

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