Burke Echelmeier began and ended his seven-inning outing against the St. Joseph Mustangs on Wednesday in the same dangerous manner. He escaped a bases-loaded jam after a throwing error and intentional walk to Kyle Uhrich in the first inning of a one-game playoff for the MINK League North title.
By the eighth, Echelmeier exited in favor of Blaine Fisher, having put on two Mustang batters on base with a 3-1 lead.
The lead would hold. Sedalia advanced to the MINK League finals in a 3-2 victory highlighted by Echelmeier’s perseverance and the Bombers’ defensive effort at Liberty Park in Sedalia.
Sedalia catcher Robert Cummins ended the eighth inning with a back pick of Brady Anderson at third base. The Sedalia crowd was only louder for Justin Holt’s leaping catch in the first inning, when he and right fielder Alex Bee crossed paths in the air like synchronized divers.
Bee snagged a tailing fly ball down the right field line in another highlight-worthy catch in the sixth.
“My defense made some plays tonight,” Echelmeier said. “It’s huge. Especially when it’s a big situation and they make a big play. It gives you all the momentum in the world.”
Echelmeier allowed one run on five hits in seven innings. He walked four and struck out three. Both teams stranded 11 baserunners.
The Bombers (30-13) stranded the bases loaded in the second inning against Mustangs starter Osvaldo Raya. Sedalia, however, tagged Raya in the third inning for three runs on two doubles. Jonathan Ramon, who went 2-for-3 with a walk, scored Quade Smith with one out.
Ryan Mantle extended the lead to 3-0 with a double down the third-base line, scoring Ramon and Bee. The Missouri State infielder said he adjusted to Raya after a barrage of off-speed pitches.
“He threw me five straight breaking balls – curveballs – so, I figured I was going to get another one,” Mantle said. “(Raya) threw it, and I guess it was fair. It was close.”
St. Joseph answered in the next frame when Louis Mele, who led off the fourth with a single, scored from third on a passed ball. The Mustangs stranded runners at second and third to end the inning.
Brett Marr and Matt Wollnick had multi-hit games for St. Joeseph.
Fisher issued two walks to begin his relief outing. He hit the first batter he faced, Anderson, and allowed a Mustang run on a walk to Jeremiah Figueroa.
John Millan relieved Raya with one out in the fifth. He struck out four batters, allowed three baserunners and was charged with the loss.
Sedalia has an 11-game win streak going into a three-game series with the MINK League South champions, Ozark Generals. The Bombers travel to Ozark on Thursday for a 7 p.m. game one start, and expect to start late – around 10 p.m. – Friday for game two. Liberty Park is currently reserved for the Missouri Senior Legion baseball tournament Thursday through Saturday.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2