by John Unrein
Parker Bosserman stepped to the plate in the top of the sixth inning with Riley Bown on first base for the Eagles. Bosserman would deliver a triple that would drive in Bown to tie the game. The entire team would meet Bown at home plate in a raucous celebration that left U.S. Baseball Park in Ozark rocking. Grain Valley had demonstrated the confidence needed to come back and tie the game before taking the lead briefly.
Grain Valley Eagles assistant baseball coach Dom Giangrosso had started a mantra before the start of the second inning in front of the teams’ dugout to “dig in and chip away at the lead, one batter at a time.” The Eagles responded by scoring at least one run between the third and sixth innings.
The culmination of the climb for Grain Valley concluded with first baseman Kaden Jeffries delivering a two out RBI single that drove in Bosserman during the top of the sixth inning. The result was the Eagles taking an 8-7 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning against the Willard Tigers. The anticipation and volume level of Eagle fans in the stands was at an all-time season high.
Bosserman was summoned in relief by Eagles head baseball coach Brian Driskell during the top of the third inning. The senior would accumulate 93 total pitches during his outing, pitching out of a jam in the sixth inning and racking up four total strikeouts. The guts displayed by Bosserman who pitched the final two innings on resolve motivated the vocal cheering coming from the Eagles dugout.
In the end, Willard would score two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to secure a 9-8 victory in the Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 5 title game. The Grain Valley Eagles had come so close to securing their first State baseball title in school history. The determination and leadership on display by the six seniors on the Eagles roster during their playoff run was as impressive as their 27-9 record to end the season.
Driskell articulated the disappointment of the moment to equal the admiration he shared for his seniors.
“This is like losing a favorite pet that you have had for 12 years. It is hard to enjoy the moment of a second place finish at State when you were on the precipice of something great,” Driskell said.
“This group of seniors are a gritty, competitive, borderline cocky group that drove the bus for us. You must have great players to get where we are at in this game. The legacy and swagger presented by kids like Cole Keller, Riley Bown, Cole Arndorfer, Parker Bosserman, Parker Stone, and Jacob Grasher in baseball and the other multiple sports they played will not soon be forgotten in my mind.”
Offensively, the Grain Valley seniors would produce five of the runs batted in for the Eagles during the contest. Each would be showered with encouragement from coaches, fellow players, and parents as they exited the dugout and made their way up the steps to the concourse one final time.
“It was unreal for me to have the trust of this coaching staff to start this game today on the mound. That team (Willard) came to hit the baseball. They hit anything we threw. At the plate, I tried to keep my swing short and pass the inning on to the next guy in line,” Bown said.
“It was great to be one of two teams in school history to make it to the final four in baseball and be the only one to play for a championship. This has the best record for any team that has ever come through Grain Valley and that is something to hang your hat on.”
Bosserman added, “We started off slow today. After they (Willard) got on the board, we got fired up and got stuff moving. I was confident in our team’s ability to swing the bats today and we almost came through.”
“It was nice to have the trust of Coach Driskell to keep the ball in my hand on the mound until the end. Especially, when you love playing baseball. This was a hard one to give up but that was a well disciplined team we just played.”
Keller finished, “Coming in here with everything we have been through, the whole goal was to raise the bar in everything we did to be better than what Grain Valley has ever been. We had been one of those towns where people would say ‘we have Grain Valley this week and we are not sure what we will get. Hell, no.’ We want to take our place among big schools like those in Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit.”
“The biggest takeaway from me leaving this field is the relationships I have developed with my teammates and coaches. The picture moments and memories are as special as knowing we have left this place better.”
Senior Cole Keller connects with the baseball while at-bat.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
The Grain Valley baseball team accepts the MSHSAA Class 5 2nd place baseball trophy.
Photo credit: Valley News staff