Blue Devils Load Bases in 7th but Saunders Puts Out Fire
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
It seems that whenever the Brentwood and Maplewood baseball teams meet, there’s a bigger story going on than just the seven innings being played.
When the teams met on Friday at Brentwood Park, a 9-7 victory for the home team, the game had all kinds of back story.
First, BHS was still smarting from MRH’s 3-2 victory on April 15. The game had its share of drama.
“We lost on a wild pitch,” Brentwood coach Mike Imergoot said. “We had an error in the first inning then the guy hit a 250-foot fly ball but it hit those bushes out there in Deer Creek Park and it was a home run. But I give them credit for beating us. It’s the first time they’ve beaten us in a long time.”
Second, Friday’s game was a rematch of the team’s pitching aces: Brentwood’s Dylan McGehee vs. undefeated Zech Biship, who struck out 13 in the April game.
Third, everybody knows that the two teams, probably even the two pitchers, will probably have to face each other again in the district tournament.
Fourth, the game began with Maplewood 4-0 in the conference and Brentwood way back in fourth or fifth place. A win for the Blue Devils would keep them even with Valley Park at the top. Another loss for the Eagles would guarantee a disappointing finish in the South Central.
Friday’s game had the makings of a classic early on. In the first two innings alone, Brentwood trailed 2-0, then led 3-2, trailed 4-3 and led 5-4.
The Eagles stretched their lead to three in the third inning but entered the bottom of the sixth ahead by one slim run. That’s when, with two outs, Marc Powells stroked a double that scored Roland Floyd and Skylar Sappington for a 9-6 pad entering the final inning. Imergoot called it “the key hit.”
But of course the game was not over. Maplewood loaded the bases in the seventh. Facing disaster, Imergoot walked out to the mound to replace McGehee. After giving up six runs in the first five innings, the senior had looked brilliant in the sixth when he retired the side. But now in the seventh he was finally showing fatigue, though “He didn’t want to come out,” Imergoot later said. “He’s a warrior.” Nevertheless, the coach replaced his ace with a sophomore, Seamus Saunders.
“I’m usually a little nervous when I first come out to the mound,” said Saunders. “But once I start pitching nothing bothers me.”
It took Saunders a few pitches to find the strike zone. He walked the first batter he faced, which was charged to McGehee, allowing a run to score to make it 9-7. But it somehow didn’t shake him. He calmly struck out the next batter and got the third man he faced to pop up to third baseman Blake Kelley. Game over.
“That was classic,” said Imergoot. “Neither team wanted to give in. I like how our guys picked each other up. Seamus was just awesome. That’s not fun coming in with the bases loaded and a guy with one ball already, and walking him.”
“That was a lot of fun,” McGehee said with a grin. “It feels great because we had lost to them for the first time in a while [on April 15] and we wanted to get them. They always love to talk a little bit so it’s fun to beat ‘em like this.”
After whiffing 13 Brentwood batters on April 15, Biship struck out just four on Friday. Still, his 0.51 earned-run average is the sixth best in the St. Louis area.
“Neither pitcher had his best stuff,” said Imergoot. “He [Biship] has a wonderful fastball. He’s probably the best pitcher in the conference. And I really like how he pitches because he stays downstairs. If you take a long swing you’re not going to hit him. You have to take a short, compact swing, and that’s what we did. And I also said, ‘Jump on that first-pitch fastball,’ and we did. He didn’t have his stuff, but our guys were attacking the baseball and that’s the difference.”
Added McGehee, “Neither pitcher had his best stuff today so we had to fight it out. He [Biship] is the same pitcher we faced last time, so it shows you how much we’ve improved from then. Our hitting has definitely improved, with two strikes especially. Instead of striking out we’re putting it into play. When that happens, good things happen.”
McGehee, Kelley and Sappington had two hits apiece, though Powells’s two-run double made the most noise.
“This was good for our guys,” said Imergoot. “They needed to prove to themselves that they’re a good team, and as good as Maplewood. Right now our goal is to be ready for districts, because Maplewood is who we’re going to face. Whether we’re seeded first or second it doesn’t matter. We’re going to face Biship and they’re going to face Dylan, because you gotta go with your aces.”
South Central AA Conference Standings
As of May 4
Valley Park 6-1, 9-6 overall
Maplewood 4-1, 9-5
Hancock 5-3, 11-6
Brentwood 3-3, 7-5
Crossroads 2-4, 3-5
Bayless 0-7, 0-14
Brentwood’s Record as of May 4: 7-5
May 2: Beat MRH 9-7
April 24: Lost to McCluer North 7-5
April 22: Beat Bayless 15-1
April 19: Beat McCluer South – Berkeley 15-0
April 19: Beat Madison Prep 11-0
April 18: Lost to Valley Park 9-3
April 15: Lost to MRH 3-2
April 12: Beat North Tech 17-0
April 12: Beat Kennedy 5-2
April 11: Beat Hancock 6-1
April 9: Lost to Crossroads 14-10
April 1: Lost to St. Pius X 10-0
May 5: 7 p.m. at Crossroads in Forest Park
May 6: 4:15 p.m. at Valley Park
May 8: 4:15 p.m. host Metro
May 9: 4:15 p.m. at Principia
Brentwood’s Starting Lineup Against MRH
Dylan McGehee, pitcher
Skylar Sappington, catcher
Marc Powells, first base
Bradley Jones, second base
Mike Mills, shortstop
Blake Kelley, third base
Lucas Jones, left field
Roland Floyd, centerfield
Jack Wright, right field
Eric Suntrup, designated hitter