The masterful run by the Festus Tigers continued on Friday, as they took down the Fort Zumwalt South Bulldogs in a 2-0 pitchers’ duel. The Tigers used a two-run third inning, the game’s only scoring, to stake starter Ian Brown, who pitched an absolute gem.
The hard-fought win sends Festus to the State Championship Final for the second straight year, and you can bet that this time they want to win it all. The final game of the season is less than 24 hours away and the Tigers have a chance to end the year with a victory. Only one team in each class gets to do that, so believe that the Tigers will bring their best when they take on the 25-5 St. Francis Borgia Knights.
As for the game against the Bulldogs, it was a tight one. Hayden Bates roped a two-out double in the first, and it looked like the Tigers might strike right away, but he was left stranded. Brown took care of Zumwalt and got six quick outs before Festus was ready to strike.
Cole Skaggs led off the third with a single and then one out later Jeremiah Cunningham doubled, but the runner was held up at third. The bulldogs did not want to pitch to Bates (and who could blame them), so he was intentionally walked to load the bases. In stepped Tyler Bizzle with the sacks juiced, and he hit a rope to short. Zumwalt got the out, but the run came home to score on the RBI grounder.
Then the Tigers caught a break. With Cunningham at third and two outs a wild pitch eluded the catcher and the speedy second baseman streaked home for a 2-0 lead. It was ruled a passed ball but the damage was done and Festus had a little bit of insurance for Brown.
Not that he needed it though.
The Tigers co-ace was throwing darts in this one and did well to work out of any rare jams he found himself in. The Bulldogs got a couple of runners on in the fourth, but Brown was able to get back to back ground balls to get out of the inning unscathed.
He then mowed down Zumwalt 1-2-3 in the fifth and faced just one batter over the minimum in the sixth. That set up the final inning with the Tigers leading by two. The Bulldogs managed to get a runner on via a single with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but Brown promptly struck out the next two batters for the win. He was mobbed by his teammates on the mound and the Tigers had reached the State Finals yet again.
Brown was brilliant, tossing the complete game shutout and allowing just seven hits and a lone walk against eight strikeouts. No Bulldog was able to barrel up and get an extra-base hit off of him, as all seven knocks were singles.
The Tigers however were able to muster three doubles in the game, one each by Bates, Cunningham and Mason Schirmer, and Wyatt Huskey added a triple. Bizzle had the lone RBI in the game.
Now the Tigers will look to keep the momentum flowing in the right direction as they get set to take on St. Francis Borgia in the finals. The Knights won’t be pushovers though. They’ve won their last 11 games in a row, so they know a little something about momentum too.
Expect an exciting showdown that hopefully ends in some glorious hardware for Festus.
First pitch is at 1 pm tomorrow. Good luck Tigers!