by Michael Smith
Grain Valley senior Pierce Bousselot didn’t have his best stuff.
Well, that’s what head coach Brian Driskell said after Wednesday’s Class 6 District 5 first-round matchup with Columbia Hickman.
The left-hander was tasked with helping the Eagles advance to the district semifinals, and he had a big hand in doing just that.
The senior tossed a complete game as he allowed just one earned run (two total) on six hits and he only walked one and struck out one to guide Grain Valley to a 6-2 victory at Blue Springs South High School.
“Pierce probably didn’t have his best stuff today but that is the great thing about guys who can just pitch,” Driskell said. “Even if they don’t have their best stuff, they can still find a way to win.”
“He wasn’t locating stuff the way he wanted to and he was a little frustrated with himself. But he did a great job.”
The No. 4-seeded Eagles (18-13) now advance to take on No. 1 seed Blue Springs South at 1 p.m. today at South. The win was 10th in their last 11 games.
The contest was locked into a pitcher dual until the top of the fourth inning when Hickman pitcher Braden Hemmer blasted a solo shot over the left center field fence to score the first run of the game.
In that same inning, the Kewpies added another run when Spencer Baehman singled, reached third on a wild pickoff throw and scored on an infield error following a ground ball off the bat of Carson Shuttlesworth.
That was all Bousselot gave up as he kept the Kewpies off balance for the rest of the game. He got plenty of help from his defense, especially in the sixth inning. Hemmer led off the frame with a double, but ended up getting caught in a rundown between second and third base, following a ground ball Zach Bates.
“After putting up a zero in the first inning, Brek (Sloan) came up to me and said ‘You don’t need to strike guys out. Make them put the ball in play and we’ll play defense.’
“My changeup was working well. It was my best pitch.”
On the play, Grain Valley shortstop Avery Garmon threw the ball to third baseman Sloan, who eventually tagged out Hemmer in the rundown. Two batters later, second baseman Michael Montgomery made a sliding stop on a sharp ground ball hit by Baehman. He was thrown out at first base to end the inning.
While Bousselot did his job, Grain Valley’s offense came alive late. Sloan drove in the Eagles first run in the bottom of the fourth when Garmon scored from second base on his RBI-double to the left-center field gap. Designated hitter Max Snyder then followed that up by sneaking a ground ball through the left side of the infield for a run-scoring single to tie the game at 2-all after four innings.
Garmon then gave Grain Valley the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth when the left-handed batter ripped an opposite field single to left field, scoring Shane Barnett from second base with two outs.
“Avery has been really locked in the past five to six weeks,” Driskell said.
Added Garmon: “In our pregame scouting, we knew they didn’t double up on their off-speed pitches so I was sitting fastball. I knew that going in. It was huge.”
Hemmer intentionally walked catcher Brody Baker to put Garmon into scoring position. Left fielder Ian Kamstra made him pay for that decision as he flipped an RBI double to left center field to help the Eagles carry a 4-2 lead into the sixth.
“That put a little smile on my face,” Kamstra said of Hickman intentionally walking Baker to face him. “I was excited to hit and help out my team.
“That is probably one of the best feelings right there.”
Grain Valley added two more insurance runs in the sixth. With runners at second and first base, right fielder Trent Melton reached on a bunt single and a throwing error on the play allowed Snyder to score from second base. Montgomery later had an RBI groundout to complete the scoring and help the Eagles advance to the district semifinals.
Grain Valley senior starting pitcher Pierce Bousselot allowed just two runs on six hits as he walked one and struck out one in seven innings to help the Eagles beat Columbia Hickman 6-2 in the first round of the Class 6 District 5 Tournament Wednesday at Blue Springs South High School. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley designated hitter Max Snyder, right, walks of the field with head coach Brian Driskell after tying the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth, following an RBI single. Photo credit: Michael Smith
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