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Blair Oaks battles all the way back, only to fall to Blue Springs

Blair Oaks pitcher Dustin Blomberg follows through during the sixth inning of Friday night’s game against Blue Springs at the American Legion Sports Complex.

Blair Oaks pitcher Dustin Blomberg follows through during the sixth inning of Friday night’s game against Blue Springs at the American Legion Sports Complex. Photo by Kris Wilson.

Baseball can be a cruel game sometimes.

After Blair Oaks battled back from a six-run deficit to knot the game, a two-out error eventually led to a pair of runs for Blue Springs. Those two turned out to be the difference as the Falcons dropped a 9-7 decision Friday night at Legion Field in a loser’s bracket semifinal of the Capital City Invitational.

“We dug ourselves another early hole, but the kids did a great job to chip away and get the ball game tied and have a chance to win the game there toward the end,” Blair Oaks head coach Harv Antle said. “Unfortunately we made too many mistakes. The biggest disappointment is we feel like we beat ourselves. The unearned runs came back to get us at the end.”

Blair Oaks found itself in a bind early on, allowing four unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning thanks to a pair of errors.

“If we minimize the damage in a couple of those situations, we scored enough runs to win the ball game,” Antle said.

After Logan Gratz cut the deficit to 4-1 with a run-scoring single in the second, Blue Springs tallied three more runs in the bottom of the frame to make it 7-1.

Then Dustin Blomberg entered the game on the mound for the Falcons. The senior hurler was masterful, pitching four solid innings in relief. Entering the game with two outs in the second inning, Blomberg escaped the inning and tossed three more hitless, scoreless innings to allow his Falcon teammates to tie the game.

“Dustin did a great job,” Antle said. “Outstanding to come in and stop the bleeding. Really pitched a great ball game for us and gave us a chance.”

Kyler Maxey smacked a bases-clearing double to the gap in right in the third inning to make it 7-4. Then, after Blair Oaks loaded the bases again in the fifth, a Bill Buckner-esque error on the Blue Springs first baseman allowed two Falcons to cross the plate.

Maxey, who finished 4-for-4, then tied the game at 7 in the top of the with an RBI double. The Falcons had runners on first and third with two outs in the same frame, but Logan Bax was robbed of an extra-base hit by an over-the-shoulder grab from the Blue Springs centerfielder.

Blomberg continued to sail along in the bottom of the sixth, striking out the first two batters. Then disaster struck.

A seemingly harmless fly ball to right field was misplayed and dropped in for a two-base error. Following a wild pitch, Nick Dorman blasted a triple to the gap in right to give Blue Springs an 8-7 lead. Dorman then scored on another wild pitch to cap the scoring.

“(Blomberg) executed a wonderful 3-2 pitch there and popped the guy up, but unfortunately we couldn’t make the play behind him,” Antle said. “They capitalized as a good club will and we just didn’t have an answer there at the end.”

Blomberg was saddled with the loss, while Blue Springs’ Brett Barbeck picked up the win by tossing four innings and allowing three runs (all unearned) on three hits with six strikeouts.

Hayden Haney was the only other Falcon with multiple hits, collecting a pair of singles.

Blair Oaks (2-2) plays Fatima (4-3) at 10 a.m. today at Legion Field in the seventh-place game.

“Certainly district implications there,” Antle said. “Motivation won’t be a problem. We can turn this tournament into a positive.”

III

Any notion of a repeat Capital City Invitational champion quickly went by the wayside.

Blair Oaks, the 2012 tournament winner, fell victim to a 19-3 drubbing in five innings at the hands of Rockhurst in the first round Friday afternoon at Vivion Field.

Rockhurst, the No. 3 team in Class 5, smacked three home runs and put up innings of seven, seven and five while scoring 19 unanswered runs.

Blair Oaks took a 3-0 lead with three runs in the top of the second inning. The Falcons strung together four base hits to do the damage.

Jacob Koelling and Ryan Abbott got things going with one-out singles, Haney walked to load the bases and Beau Distler added an infield single to make it 1-0. Seth Eskens made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to center field and Derek Otto smacked a single up the middle to make it 3-0.

It was all Rockhurst after that.

The Hawklets scored seven runs in the bottom of the second inning, highlighted by a three-run homer from Trey Vickers that made it 4-3 and a two-run triple from Victor Brancato.

Rockhurst added seven more runs in the third. Logan Gray and Todd Czinger blasted back-to-back homers to spark the outburst. Gray’s was a three-run shot.

The Hawklets totaledd five more runs in the fourth. A pair of two-run doubles from Jack Benninghoff and Gray led the way.

Ryan Voss took the loss for Blair Oaks, while Xavier Boerger picked up the win for Rockhurst.

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