Three unearned runs in the third inning proved to be the turning point in a season-ending 5-2 loss Thursday to Sedgwick in the semifinals of the Class 3A regional baseball tournament hosted by Marion.
The Trojans, seeded sixth among six teams with a 4-12 record, made it to the semifinals with a 6-4 win over No. 3 Marion on Wednesday in a tournament that was running two days late because of rain postponements.
The weather wasn’t much better Thursday, but facing a state-mandated deadline, the teams played on, even with an additional two-hour delay.
Once the two teams took the field, Sedgwick, seeded No. 2 (17-3), struck first, scoring a run in the bottom of the first inning off Hillsboro starter Braden Vogt.
The junior right-hander surrendered a one-out walk, a ground-ball base hit and a pitch that got past the catcher. An off-line throw from the outfield enabled the run to score.
The Trojans tied the game in the top of third off Cardinal starter Connor Freund. Bryant Young led off with a single, advanced on a ground out by Chance Elliott, then scored on a single by Brooks Gardner.
In the pivotal bottom half of the inning, Vogt surrendered a one-out double to Nate Werner. He then struck out the next two hitters, which should have ended the inning. But the third-strike pitch hit the dirt. The catcher threw down to third base, which gave the Cardinals runners at first and third with two outs.
A single by Jordan Scarlett brought home the two base runners. Moments later, Vogt was called for a balk, bringing home the third unearned run of the inning.
Sedgwick’s 4-1 lead held until the sixth inning, when the Trojans manufactured a second run. Gardner walked with one out, then stole second base after Vogt struck out. A single by Austin Cross chased Gardner home.
After Sedgwick scored its final run in the sixth, the Trojans loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the seventh on singles by Clayton Philpott and Tyson Reimer and a walk to Young.
But Freund preserved the win by coaxing a fielder’s choice, a fly out and a ground out in succession.
“Braden Vogt pitched a whale of a game,” coach Doug Dick said. “He gave up only two earned runs. If we don’t give up those unearned runs, strategy is a little different when it’s 2-2 going into the seventh. Maybe we score a run or two with a little different philosophy.”
With the win, Sedgwick advanced to the championship game, where the Cardinals lost 4-3 to Remington, the No. 1 seed.
In this first partnership season with Peabody-Burns, the Trojans finished with five wins and 13 losses.
“We were competitive all season, and the regional proved that,” Dick said. “If you had enough pitchers, anybody in it was good enough to win it. There weren’t any blowouts.”
Dick said his team’s final record is deceptive.
“Six of our losses were one-run ball games that could have gone either way,” he said. “And they were against good teams.”
Dick said the partnership between the two schools was a good one.
“I know it’s been done before, but definitely for us and for Peabody it was an experiment that worked really well,” he said. “It provided depth for our team at positions where we didn’t have it, and it was good for the kids. It was amazing chemistry, I thought.”
Three seniors wrapped up their high school baseball careers: Philpott and Jayton Scott from Peabody-Burns, and Cross from Hillsboro.
“I was proud of the leadership from the two senior starters, Austin and Clayton,” he said. “I was proud of the way we came together as a group.”
Dick said Vogt may been his most improved player this season, both offensively and defensively.
“He pitched a good game at the end of the season, and showed the kind of pitcher he has the caliber of being. For us next year, he’s going to have to be our ace.”