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Missouri Class 1 and 2 baseball semifinals: Russellville survives Plattsburg in extra innings to play for Class 2 title; Oran goes for repeat bid against St. Elizabeth in Class 1 championship game

Russellville goes for program's first state title against Portageville.

By Buck Ringgold 

Photos courtesy of Ron and Lisa Rigdon, Cheap Seats Photo

OZARK - Russellville was severely tested in Monday's Class 2 semifinal game with Plattsburg, and even had to go extra innings.

It's nothing new for the Indians, who have faced similar taut situations all throughout their playoff run. So in the top of the eighth, they knew the assignment at hand.

The Indians delivered, as Chris Seaver and Jesse Daniel had consecutive RBI extra-base hits which broke a 1-all score. Russellville then got a game-ending pickoff play in the last of the eighth to survive, winning 3-2 at U.S. Ballpark.

In this month alone, the Indians have won all nine games played. They scored three runs apiece in four of those games, including 3-2 decisions in three of their past four contests, all postseason games.

"It's crazy, all of our close games have been 3-2," Daniel said. "The district championship, the quarterfinal game and now this game, so any time we score three runs, we win. ... We've been down and out, but we pull out the win every time."

And now the Indians need to win just one more game, whether it be compact or by a spacious margin, in order to secure the program's first state title. Russellville (28-4) takes on Portageville at 1 p.m. Tuesday for the Class 2 championship.

"It's a great feeling to be there," Russellville coach Lucas Branson said. "These kids are so battle-tested and tough that I think they can withstand anything.

"We've talked the last four weeks of being the best team, but also being the team that fights the best because sometimes, the best team doesn't always win, but the team that fights the best is going to win, and so far we've been doing that for the last three weeks of the postseason."

With the score tied and entering extra innings in Monday's semifinal, the Indians struck.

After Logan Cinotto singled with one out, Seaver came up and launched a drive that went all the way to the wall in right center, bringing in Cinotto. Seaver made it to third base on a tie-breaking RBI triple.

Daniel, the next batter, then delivered some insurance with a deep drive of his own to right center, a double to score Seaver which made it 3-1, Russellville.

"(I had to) just hit it to the outfield, and I know Chris is fast and he would get it home," said Daniel, a junior. "So I just had to hit it to the outfield."

As it turned out, Daniel's RBI hit proved to be lucrative for the Indians.

Plattsburg put runners on corners with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Kayden Carter hit a groundball to shortstop Charlie Miller for the second out, though James Stegall scored from third.

Meanwhile, Wyatt Moran - who reached first base on a single - was removed in favor of a pinch runner, Jayden Houser. Houser moved to second on Carter's groundout, with Jackson Lewis coming to the plate as the potential winning run.

Lewis worked the count on Cinotto, pitching in relief of Miller, who started the game on the mound. On a 3-1 pitch, Cinotto threw a strike.

Immediately, Russellville catcher Jake Schulte noticed Houser off second and launched a missile towards the bag. Miller, who moved to shortstop, promptly applied the tag before the runner was able to get back to the base, ending the game.

"It was just all timing stuff for us that Jake was paying attention," Branson said. "We were talking in the dugout, it's kind of rare (a game-ending pickoff throw by the catcher on a full count), I'll be honest, but it goes our way to make a good throw in a pressure situation to get that, obviously we'll take it."

Cinotto was the winning pitcher in relief, going the final 1 1/3 innings. He went 2-for-4 at the plate, also delivering Russellville's initial run, a two-out RBI single in the top of the first.

Braedyn Bryant went 2-for-4 as well for the Indians.

The Tigers tied the score at 1-all in the bottom of the fourth on a sacrifice fly from Paul Nelson, bringing in Joseph Hofmeister.

Plattsburg (28-9) will take on Gainesville in the third-place game, set for 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Portageville 6, Gainesville 0

The Bulldogs opened the scoring with a three-run third and added runs in each of the next two innings en route to the Class 2 semifinal win Monday.

Donney Benthal drove in the first run in the third with an RBI single. The next batter, Thomas Frakes, brought in two more runners when he drilled a single to center.

Portageville (31-3) made it 4-0 in the fourth on a two-out RBI single from Ronald Adams. In the fifth, it grew to 5-0 as William Warren tripled in another run.

The Bulldogs capped the scoring in the sixth when Alex Winsor doubled, stole third and crossed home plate on an error.

Adams ended up going 3-for-4. Benthal went 2-for-3, and Conner Johnson had a 2-for-2 performance as well.

Chris Kelley pitched a five-hit shutout for the Bulldogs, throwing just 60 pitches. He struck out seven.

Jake Leeker had the only multi-hit game for Gainesville (21-7), going 2-for-3.

Class 1 semifinals

Oran 6, Northeast (Cairo) 3

The Eagles gave up three runs in the top of the fourth and entered their half of the inning trailing.

But they countered with three runs of their own to retake the lead, 4-3. Oran added two more runs in the fifth as the Eagles now stand one game away from a repeat state championship.

"(I told the team before the bottom of the fourth) the game's not over," Oran coach Joe Bickings said. "There's 21 outs for a reason and we've just got to keep putting the ball in play and good things are going to happen, and we've just got to find ways to get people on and get them in and get them over."

Oran (20-3) will now go for a repeat title by playing the team the Eagles beat to win state last season, St. Elizabeth, for the Class 1 championship at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

"We lost five seniors last year that started for us, and we've got some good younger kids," Bickings said. "They just had to wait their turn a little bit, but the program we have, we just tell them to try to get better every day because you never know when your time's going to be called."

One Oran player who probably epitomizes that statement is Quentin Senciboy, a senior who had not played since his freshman season before rejoining the Eagles. He also contemplated leaving the team earlier this season before his teammates convinced him to stay.

In Monday's win, Senciboy ended up getting two hits, including a double, and scoring two runs.

"I just tried to get my head right in the moment. ... (U.S. Ballpark) is giant, that's for sure," Senciboy said. "Honestly, I didn't know what to think about it just because it was going to be so big and our outfielders, where to play and stuff, but we executed and got the job done."

Oran also got a boost from Nolan Loper, who went 3-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored.

Eagle pitcher Kolten Payne settled down after the shaky top of the fourth and held the Bearcats in check the rest of the way.

Payne finished off a complete-game eight-hitter, allowing two earned runs while striking out five. He also drove in two runs at the plate.

"Kolten went out there and battled," Bickings said. "He might not have had his best stuff (Monday), but he's our ace and our bulldog, and we're going to go with him, and when he needed to, he made some really quality pitches."

Tyler Davis went 3-for-3 with a double for Northeast (14-6), which will play South Nodaway for third place, set for 4 p.m. Tuesday.

That will be followed by Oran's bid at a repeat. Senciboy, for one, is eager to continue to help the cause for one more night.

"We're just going to get a good night's rest and bring it there (Tuesday)," he said. "We'll bring it out all on the field."

St. Elizabeth 10, South Nodaway 0

Caleb Oligschlaeger got it done at the plate and on the mound in the Hornets' Class 1 semifinal Monday night.

Oligschlaeger pitched a two-hit shutout and also went 2-for-3 while scoring three runs as St. Elizabeth, leading 2-0 after four, broke the game wide open with six runs in the fifth. The Hornets added two more runs in the sixth, invoking the run rule.

On the night, Oligschlaeger threw 79 pitches, 49 going for strikes. He walked two and struck out nine.

Brock Lucas also went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored, and Gavin Williams was 2-for-3, driving in a run for St. Elizabeth (17-6).