After Sacred Heart delivered Windsor’s first – and only – run-rule loss to the Greyhounds earlier this month, Monday’s matchup between the two in the Kaysinger Baseball Tournament semifinals was a candidate for in-conference redemption.
Instead, Sacred Heart advanced to their third consecutive conference title matchup, 2-0, behind a complete game shutout from Chance Spangler.
“I just threw a lot of breaking balls and sliders,” Spangler said. “We made some plays.”
Now the Gremlins look to enact some revenge of their own in the championship game against Northwest. The Mustangs handed Sacred Heart their only conference loss of the season April 9.
Averaging 3.3 allowed runs per game against conference opponents, depth at starting pitching has carried Sacred Heart to the championship game.
“We knew that pitching was going to be our strength,” head coach Jaric Reid said.
Seniors Brenden Volcko, Spangler and Kolin Brace have led the Gremlins (12-4) on the mound, all boasting ERAs under 2.00 in 20-plus innings each.
Volcko retired 15 batters straight in Sacred Heart’s first matchup with Windsor. He developed a knuckleball during his freshman year, and used it “almost every other pitch” in a 14-4 victory over Warsaw last week.
“I started playing catch, throwing it,” Volcko said. “Through the years I just started throwing it in games. I’ve got it down pretty good.”
Brace will likely start against Northwest in tomorrow’s conference tournament championship. He has struck out 25 batters in 21 innings. He throws a fastball, change up and curveball and said he’s felt comfortable with them all season.
“They’ve all been basically on,” Brace said.
Reid said the rotation is not only prepared Sacred Heart for tournament runs, but flexibility during big games.
“The biggest thing is, you get a short leash with them,” Reid said. “If they’re struggling, I’ve got a guy I can throw in there, especially come tournament time.”
Sacred Heart faces Northwest (12-7) in the Kaysinger Conference Championship tomorrow at Liberty Park in Sedalia at 7 p.m.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2