McGehee Tips Cap to District Champ MRH

Dylan McGehee slides safely into home plate to cut MRH’s lead to 2-1 in the fourth inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Eagles surprised by Blue Devils’ pitching strategy

By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit

Dylan McGehee sadly accepts Brentwood’s plaque for taking second place in the district. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Most athletes have nothing good to say about the team that just beat them in a championship match. They’ll admit that they and their team made mistakes but rarely will they praise the foe that just ended their season.

But, of course, Dylan McGehee isn’t “most athletes,” never has been.

His praise for the Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School baseball team on Tuesday at Brentwood Park was poignant considering the circumstances. He and his Brentwood teammates had just lost to the Blue Devils 5-3 in the Class 3 District 4 championship. It’s the first time BHS hasn’t won the district in four years. McGehee was the losing pitcher. The loss ended his high school career.

And yet, as he stood near his dugout after the game, eyes a little swollen from stifling tears, the front of his uniform filthy from a face-first slide into home plate in the fourth inning, and with the Blue Devils still celebrating nearby, he managed to smile.

“This is their year to win it,” he said. “We won three district championships in a row and it’s always going to be tough winning four. They had less mistakes, less mental errors. They made all the plays today.”

It’s Maplewood-RH’s first district championship since 1963. They’ll play St. Pius X of Festus on Monday for the sectional title.

Moments after pitching the last out, Zech Biship is mobbed by his Maplewood-Richmond Heights teammates. It’s their first district title in 51 years. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Both Brentwood and Maplewood-RH reached the title game as expected, with routs: top-seeded MRH 17-4 over Cleveland in one semifinal and second-seeded BHS 12-0 over Carnahan in the other. But for Brentwood the big showdown had a surprise.

Eagles coach Mike Imergoot had predicted weeks ago that the two teams would play for the district title, with McGehee pitching against Zechariah Biship. The pitchers had faced off twice before. Biship, now 4-1 with an earned-run average of 0.46, beat BHS 3-2 in April. McGehee, 4-4 and 3.6, pitched a 9-7 victory over MRH in May.

But on Tuesday, Maplewood coach Jonathan Webb started Richard Rasmussen on the mound instead. He lasted until the fifth inning, when Biship took over and earned the save.

“They took a chance and it worked,” said Imergoot. “Jonathan Webb knows what he’s doing. I think his strategy was that if he gets the lead he has his No. 1 pitcher to come in and close it. It was a good strategy – it worked.”

Said McGehee, who batted .547 on the season, “They threw a pitcher we didn’t expect. It threw us off a little bit.”

The Brentwood team was surprised to see Richard Rasmussen as the Blue Devils’ starting pitcher. The senior gave up only two runs before being relieved in the fifth inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

The Blue Devils led 2-0 before Brentwood tied it in the fourth. McGehee singled, stole second and scored on a fly ball by Marc Powells. Then Powells stole second and went to third on a passed ball. Eric Suntrup singled Powells home to make it 2-2.

Marc Powells steals second base in the fourth inning, as the throw to Chris Tronicek is late. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
As the ball thrown to Chris Tronicek rolls into the outfield, Marc Powells heads to third base. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Marc Powells arrives safely to third base, ahead of the throw to Andrew Volz. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

The Blue Devils quickly regained the lead with three runs in the bottom of the fourth to make it 5-2. Fielding errors reared their ugly heads and the Eagles ended up with five errors on the night.

“In that one inning after we tied it up and they got three runs, we gave them six outs,” said Imergoot. “You can’t make too many mistakes and win ballgames. You can’t give good teams extra outs. Physical errors are part of the baseball game but it happened at bad times today.”

After Lucas Jones and Blake Kelley hit back-to-back singles to start the fifth inning, Biship replaced Rasmussen on the mound. Mike Mills then sacrificed to advance the runners and McGehee sacrificed to score Jones. Kelley reached third base but Biship got the final out to hold the score at 5-3.

First-base coach Elliott Sterett congratulates Lucas Jones for his single in the fifth inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Blake Kelley swings hard in the third inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

If there was a question that McGehee had begun to lose his stuff in MRH’s three-run fourth, the senior answered it in the fifth. He struck out Biship with his first three pitches and retired the next two batters. Then he allowed no runs in the sixth. But Biship was just as sharp in the sixth and seventh to earn the save.

Dylan McGehee pitches in the second inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Just as disappointed as McGehee were his seven fellow seniors: Jones, Kelley, Powells, Suntrup, Roland Floyd, Jack Wright and Connor Hancock.

“I can’t say enough about my seniors,” said Imergoot. “Most of them have been with me for four years. They’ve done nothing but lead, leave it all out on the field, done everything I asked of them. I’ve got character people – Marc Powells, Jack Wright. I couldn’t ask for any better quality people. Good students, great teammates and gentlemen beyond belief.”

Jack Wright heads for first base. He’s one of Brentwood’s eight seniors. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Eric Suntrup reacts to being thrown out at third base in the fourth inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Roland Floyd goes long in the fourth inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Blake Kelley parks under a fly ball in the fifth inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Lucas Jones attempts to bunt in the third inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Asked what he’d miss the most about not playing baseball for BHS anymore, the four-year starter McGehee heaved a big sigh and replied, “Just coming to the field every day. It’s going to be tough. This is my last game here so I‘ve got a lot of memories.”

Bradley Jones swings in the second inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

May 19: Brentwood 12, Carnahan 0

Brentwood scored all 12 runs in the first two innings to earn a spot in the Class 3 District 4 title game with Maplewood-Richmond Heights.

Seamus Saunders threw a two-hitter, striking out 10 batters and walking only one. He finished out his sophomore season with a 3-0 record and an earned-run average of 3.08.

“The curveball and the fastball were working,” said Saunders. “Mainly I just threw the fastball. They couldn’t really hit it.”

Kelley hit three singles and scored a run. McGehee, Powells and Skylar Sappington each scored two runs.

Skylar Sappington swings hard in the fourth inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

South Central AA Conference
Final Standings

Valley Park 8-1
Hancock 6-4
Maplewood 5-5
Brentwood 4-5
Crossroads 4-6
Bayless 1-7

Eric Suntrup dives safely back to first base to beat the pitcher’s throw to Jacob Speed. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Brentwood’s Final Record: 11-9
May 20: Lost to MRH 5-3
May 19: Beat Carnahan 12-0
May 12: Beat Hancock 8-5
May 12: Beat Jennings 17-10
May 9: Lost to Principia 4-2
May 8: Beat Metro 13-0
May 6: Lost to Valley Park 8-5
May 5: Lost to Crossroads 12-11
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

BHS assistant principal Stephen Ayotte presents the flag for the National Anthem. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Brentwood players and coaches line up for the National Anthem. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Mike Mills gets set to throw to first base in the third inning, backed up by Eric Suntrup. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Catcher Skylar Sappington waits for the throw to home plate as Riley Sporlader scores in the fourth inning. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Mike Imergoot consoles Dylan McGehee on the mound in the sixth inning. McGehee allowed baserunners but Brentwood’s defense tightened and no runs were scored. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Mike Imergoot speaks to his players after the game. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

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