The Clayton Greyhounds were no match for Nate Moore and the Festus Tigers on Saturday in the opening round of the Class 5 State Championship Tournament. Moore was beyond brilliant, twirling a complete game no hitter and the Tiger bats stayed hot in a 10-0 shellacking.
Moore went all six innings, faced just one batter over the minimum (issuing a lone walk) and struck out six in the contest. He kept the Clayton hitters off balance all day and the Greyhounds simply had no answer for his stuff on the mound.
Moore didn’t need much offensive support in this one, but he got plenty anyway. The Tigers struck early and often and used a Jeremiah Cunningham double and a Hayden Bates RBI groundout to take a 1-0 lead in the first. It was an advantage they would not surrender for the remainder of the game.
Festus scored again in the third on another run-scoring grounder, this time by Tyler Bizzle. Brady Nolen had one of his own in a three-run fourth, and Cunningham drove in the other two with a sharp single to center. Suddenly, after just nine outs, it was 5-0 Tigers.
Festus would tack on three more in the fifth thanks to a Wyatt Huskey RBI base knock and two-run double by Brayden Montgomery. Then in the sixth, with a chance to trigger the mercy rule and cut the game short, Bates took the fate of the game into his own hands and launched two-run bomb to left to give the Tigers a 10-0 lead.
Moore did the rest by recording a pop out and fanning the final two hitters to seal the victory. It was a spectacular end to a brilliant performance by the young hurler.
Cunningham had a monster day at the plate, going 4-for-4 with two runs, two RBI and a stolen base. Bates had just the one hit in four trips, but it was obviously a big one, and he was responsible for driving in three runs to lead the club. Montgomery drove in a pair and Nolen, Bizzle and Huskey accounted for the other tallies.
Festus has now won seven in a row and is playing their best baseball of the season at exactly the right time. The win earns them a date with the Fort Zumwalt South Bulldogs on June 2nd, and it should be a good one. The Bulldogs are 27-6-1 and edged out the Tigers twice at the beginning of the season. Festus lost both games by just two runs.
This appears to be a different Tigers team though, so Zumwalt should be prepared for some revenge energy. First pitch is at 10 am.