Valley Park here for league showdown May 6
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Brentwood High School played Maplewood-Richmond Heights in baseball on April 25 and, yes, there was drama. A comeback. An extra inning. An ejection. And afterwards, one team embracing while the other stared at the ground.
But this time the drama wasn’t a tragedy for the Eagles, who won 9-5 at Deer Creek Park in Maplewood.
The two teams might meet again in the district tournament but because of this outcome the Eagles will probably be awarded the top seed. That means they’ll face an easier opponent in the first round, allowing them to save their best pitcher for the district title game.
“I’m really proud of my guys,” said BHS coach Mike Imergoot. “They probably just clinched the first seed in the district.”
The drama began long before the game. The Eagles started the season with the bitter taste of having lost to the Blue Devils in the past two district title games, including being no-hit by Zech Biship last year. Two months ago catcher Stephen Suntrup remarked, “Beating them is basically what we’ve been thinking about” since the schools played in boys basketball in January.
So the stage was set for the big drama on April 25. This time Brentwood scored early and led until MRH made it 3-3 in the fifth inning. The score remained locked until the eighth, when the Blue Devils’ pitching finally unraveled and allowed six runs, two from walks with the bases loaded. Suntrup delivered the knockout punch, a three-run single to center field.
Maplewood started a comeback with two runs in the bottom of the eighth but Seth Winkleman pitched himself out of it by retiring the final three batters.
“It feels great,” said senior Mike Mills, the winning pitcher. “There’s been a lot of chatter between the two teams, so it definitely feels good to pull one out and stick it to them.”
Added junior John Bischoff, “There were comments on social media, so it felt good to beat them, especially at their home.”
“The difference tonight was we finally broke through against their mistakes,” said Brentwood coach Mike Imergoot. “We let enough runners on for five games and it seemed we’d never break through offensively. But finally, our guys who don’t usually hit the ball made some contact. Luke Tilton helped us win a game there. Jonas Heisel helped us win the game by making contact.”
Said Bischoff, “We had guys in the bottom half of the lineup really contributing, guys just coming through in the clutch when they need to.”
Though Maplewood’s starting pitcher Drew Curtis lasted two innings longer than Brentwood starter Skylar Sappington, overall the Eagles had stronger pitching. Curtis’s two relievers surrendered six runs in one inning. The two pitchers who followed Sappington, Mike Mills and Winkleman, gave up two runs in three innings.
“I’ve been throwing pretty good lately and I felt confident going into the game,” said Sappington, who allowed no earned runs in five innings and struck out eight, lowering his ERA to 2.21. “Just playing against Maplewood probably gave me a little more adrenalin.”
“He’s an iron man,” Imergoot said of Sappington. “He gives you everything, he leaves everything on the field, 100 percent.”
And he can hit. The Eagles took the lead in the first inning when Sappington singled in Charles “Butters” Jones. In the fourth, Morgan Murphy made it 2-0 when he made his own call and stole home. Once in the dugout, he smiled to teammates, looked toward the parking lot where an ice cream truck was stopped, and explained, “I heard the ice cream truck so I had to come home.”
BHS made it 3-1 in the fifth when Suntrup’s fly ball scored Mills from third. But in that same inning MRH tied it with a base hit from Michael Langston.
In the decisive eighth, Luke Tilton walked, Jones singled and Mills walked to load the bases. Matt Green replaced Curtis on the mound and Sappington patiently drew a walk from him to score the go-ahead run. Isaac Pearson replaced Green but then walked Bischoff to give Brentwood a 5-3 lead.
“It’s kind of anticlimactic when you walk in the winning run, but that’s what happened,” said BHS assistant coach John Sappington.
Then came Suntrup’s single, which scored Mills, Sappington and Bischoff. The play ended with Bischoff being ejected from the game. Four batters later, Luke Tilton reached first on a high throw, allowing Suntrup to score to make it 9-3.
After Mills walked the first three hitters in the bottom of the eighth, Winkleman took over the mound with the bases loaded. He gave up a two-run single but retired the final three for the save. Though MRH is always a huge game, he claimed he was more nervous during his first varsity start last year at Whitfield.
“I just threw fastballs,” he said of the MRH outing. “It’s what I do.”
South Central AA Standings
As of May 4
Valley Park 6-0
May 3: won at Bayless 12-0 (5 innings)
Bischoff pitched a two-hitter for the win. Brentwood: Sappington, 3 hits, 2 doubles, 3 runs, 3 RBI; WP Bischoff, 5 ip, 2 hits, 6 SOs.
May 2: won at Hancock 12-0 (5 innings)
Sappington threw a one-hitter and Brentwood scored nine runs in the final two innings. Hancock was plagued by six errors. Brentwood: Alex Cobb, 3 hits, 3 RBI, 2 runs; Mason Baker, triple; WP Sappington, 5 ip, 1 hit. Hancock: LP Isaih Wilson.
April 28: beat University City 10-7
Brentwood led 5-0, 5-4 and 10-4 before the Lions scored three runs in the seventh. Brentwood: Jones, 2 runs; Mills, 3 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Murphy, 3 hits, 2 runs, WP, 4 ip, 3 ER, 5 SO; Winkleman, 3 ip, 2 hits, 1 ER, 7 SO. University City: KeAndre Bledsoe, LP, 5 ip, 5 hits, 8 runs, 5 ER, 7 walks, 7 SO.
April 25: beat MRH 9-5 (9-7)
Brentwood: Sappington, 3 hits included 1 double, struck out 8; Suntrup, 3 RBI; Bischoff, 3 walks; Mills, WP, 2 ER, no hits; Winkleman, save.
2016 Results and Schedule — BHS is 11-4
4/1: lost at Orchard Farm 12-10
4/7: beat Crossroads 9-1
4/8: lost to DuBourg 17-8
4/13: beat Bayless, 13-0
4/14: beat Hancock 6-4
4/16: Brentwood Invitational
– Beat Barat 4-2
– Beat University City 12-5
– Beat McCluer South Berkeley 4-1
4/18: beat Jennings 19-11
4/19: lost at Valley Park 2-0
4/22: lost at Principia 3-0
4/25: won at MRH 9-5
4/28: beat University City 10-7
5/2: won at Hancock 12-0
5/3: won at Bayless 12-0
5/6: host Valley Park, 4:15
5/10: at Kennedy, 4:15 p.m.
5/16: District playoffs at Brentwood Park