If you’ve ever seen the old Pink Panther movies, Inspector Clouseau looked a lot like Smith-Cotton baseball coach Jeff Mays during Saturday’s 10-0 loss to the St. Louis Lafayette Lancers in the final round of the Skip Schulz/West Central Missouri Baseball Tournament at Liberty Park Stadium.
Mays was continuously searching for clues to try to find the correct combinations to make his team better. He went through four pitchers and more defensive changes than you could swing a bat at and the Tigers managed to get only five runners on base and just three hits off Lancer junior right-hander Niles Burdell.
The Tigers lost their fourth straight in the three-pool, 10-team tournament to fall to 2-9 on the season.
Playing their fourth game in four days, Mays gave a lot of his younger players a chance to get some time on the field. Three of S-C’s top veteran players, Tyler Slawson, Ian Dotson and Taylor Schuber, sat the game out.
Normally a good three- to four-inning pitcher, Tiger starter Dalton Christian failed to get out of the first inning and was pulled with the bases loaded and nobody out. Christian gave up a bunt single to Lancer leadoff hitter Cole DuPont, then walked the next hitter and the third hitter in the order reached base on a catcher interference call against S-C catcher Austin Hoffman to load the sacks with no outs. Out came Christian and shortstop Luke Archibeque came on to pitch.
Hoffman walked his first hitter to force in the first Lancer run. An RBI single to left made it 2-0. A sacrifice fly to center scored another run.
All three of those runs were charged to Christian, who took the loss.
The Lancers, 6-4 on the season, sent 12 batters to the plate and scored six runs in the first on just one hit, six bases on balls and a Tiger error to pretty much sew up the win against the sluggish Tigers.
Dom Zerilli came to the hill for S-C with one out in the second, becoming the third Tiger hitter to come to the mound. Zerilli worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings before Ian Hart came to the hill to start the fourth. Lafayette got a run in the fourth to go up 7-0 and added three more in the bottom of the fifth to end the game on the 10-run rule.
S-C got a runner aboard with one out in the first when Hoffman singled to left. However, he was wiped out one double-play grounder by Charles Chadwick.
Christian singled with one out in the second but strikeouts by Jeremy Williams and A.J. Paul ended the threat. Paul singled in the fourth and Christian walked in the fifth.
S-C failed to get a runner into scoring position in the game.
Burdell threw a three-hit shutout, struck out five and walked in going the five-inning distance for the win.
DuPont, Marcus Roberg and Austen Cummins each had two hits for the Lancers.
With the win, Lafayette improved to 2-1 in the four-day tournament and still had sh0t at the Ross Dey Pool title with a win Saturday afternoon over Rock Bridge.
In earlier rounds, S-C lost 4-2 to Rock Bridge Wednesday, fell 9-4 to Raymore-Peculiar Thursday and 14-5 to Oak Grove on Friday. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.