With three top-10 teams in the state competing at the same district tournament, the margin of error was very slight.
No. 2-ranked Rock Bridge walked off on Hickman in the preceding Class 5 District 9 semifinals, and No. 5 edged No. 8 Smith-Cotton 1-0 in the following game.
Tyler Abney, who pitched six innings for Smith-Cotton, stranded two Jays base runners in the fifth with a strikeout.
The Tigers’ defense nearly preserved another scoreless escape on a putout at the plate in the sixth. Kade Franks doubled to right-center field, but Gavin Jones’ relay to home beat Grant Wood home in time for a bobbled reception and tag from Nick Hagedorn.
Franks scored on a Brandon Williams single on the next at bat.
Jefferson City starter JT Bohlken pitched a complete-game shutout, surrendering five hits, striking out seven and walking one.
Head coach Jud Kindle said the loss was tough not only because of its result, but to break up a team he called special. This is Kindle’s last season as head coach of Smith-Cotton.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt in anybody’s mind that we have the toughest district in the entire state,” Kindle said. “I wouldn’t trade any of the teams for these guys. These guys are such an amazing group.”
Kindle, a Smith-Cotton alum, said his legacy as head coach was influenced by his former coach at S-C, Ross Dey.
“I think a big part of why we’re so successful was the amount of work we put in,” Kindle said. “I always made a focus of, would (Dey) be happy with how things are being ran. And I think he would be.”
Smith-Cotton finished with a program-best 27 wins in 2016.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2