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As unlikely as it may seem, the PHS varsity baseball team, which ended the regular season with a 1-19 record, was one run and three outs away from advancing to the district title game last Wednesday.
But, top-seeded South Shelby (20-5) literally stole the victory, in a 2-1 semifinal showdown in Shelbina.
The strange series of events started last Monday, when fifth-seeded Palmyra upset fourth-seeded Monroe City to advance to the semifinals behind the dominant pitching of Ethan Tallman.
And, it continued Wednesday, as Colby Cook took the mound and held the 18-5 Cardinals to one run and two hits over five and a third innings in a 1-1 game to give the Panthers a shot yet an even bigger upset.
The Panthers went to bat in the top of the sixth with hopes of taking the lead, and had a runner in scoring position–Rayce Ragar, who drew a one-out walk and stole second and moved to second on Brodie Webbs sacrifice bunt–but Cade Lahman struck out to end the opportunity.
Then, in the bottom of the inning, South Shelby’s Phillip Schmidt drew a one-out walk, moved to third on an fielding error, and with the ball still alive, stole home as the catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher, sparking a walk-off celebration for the Cardinals.
South Shelby took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, when Schmidt led off with a single, stole second and third and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Palmyra evened the score in the third when Rylan Compton reached on an error, advanced to second on a single, stole third and scored on an error.
Cook had some early control issues, but settled down to keep Cardinal batters off balance before having to be relieved after 105 pitches, but not before striking out eight.
Gavin Greving finished the game and was tagged for the unearned run without giving up a hit.
South Shelby’s Zaiden Wood started and went six and a third innings, giving up one unearned run on three hits and three walks while striking out nine.
The Cardinals went on to win Thursday’s Class 3, District 6 title game, 7-6, over second-seeded Clark County.
South Shelby was to play Elsberry in sectionals Tuesday.
Palmyra ended the season, 2-20.
The Panthers advanced to the semifinals with a 4-0 win over Monroe City last Monday.
Palmyra scored two in the first, one in the second and one more in the seventh while Tallman pitched six innings of shutout ball to earn the mound victory.
Tallman gave up two singles and four walks while striking out 13 of the 24 batters he faced.
Singles by Jon Lundberg, Greving, Cook and Colby Jones and a walk to Ty Haskins produced the two first inning runs.
Cook drove in Lundberg with a double in the second inning, and then hit a single to drive in Greving who doubled in the seventh inning.
Greving then got the final three outs of the game.
The game was not the biggest upset of the tournament, as sixth-seeded Mark Twain beat third-seeded Highland, 6-3, in the quarterfinals before falling to Clark County, 10-0, in the semis.
3/18 at S.Boone(Cluster) TBA
3/21 Elsberry L 0-11, 0-1
3/28 at QND L 2-10, 0-2
3/30 at QHS L 0-15, 0-3
4/3 B. Green L 4-5, 0-4
4/4 Macon L 1-13, 0-5
4/10 Unity L 8-13, 0-6
4/11 at C.C. L 1-11, 0-7
4/13 Mon. City L 6-9, 0-8
4/15 at Mob. L 0-10, 0-9
4//17 at HV L 2-3, 0-10
4/18 High. L 9-18, 0-11
4/21 Brook. W 9-5, 1-11
4/27 Cent. L 2-13, 1-12
4/28 at Han. L 0-10, 1-13
4/29 S. Callaway Cluster
B.O. L 2-14, 1-14
S. Cal. L 1-6, 1-15
5/1 at Lib. L 4-5, 1-16
5/4 at S. S. L 1-5, 1-17
5/5-6 Pal/QND Slam
5/5 Han. L 0-20, 1-18
5/10 at Kirk. L 0-13, 1-19
5/15-18 Districts at S.S.
5/15 M.C. W 4-0, 2-19
5/17 S.S. L 1-2, 2-20