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Hair helps Blair Oaks baseball teams claim district title

Hair helps Blair Oaks baseball teams claim district title

May 15th, 2019 by Greg Jackson in Sports Prep

The Blair Oaks Falcons hoist their first-place trophy Tuesday after defeating the California Pintos 12-1 in five innings in the championship game of the Class 3 District 14 Tournament in California.

Photo by Greg Jackson /News Tribune.

CALIFORNIA, Mo. — It has been a busy senior year for Nolan Hair, who hasn't had a break from one sport to the next.

Hair missed the first week of baseball practice because the boys basketball team advanced to the Class 3 quarterfinals. Before that, he missed all of the basketball preseason — as well as the first two weeks of the regular season — while he was quarterbacking the Falcons to a Class 2 football state title.

And even though he graduated Sunday, Hair will have to wait at least another week before his summer vacation begins.

Hair went 2-for-3 with three RBI and three runs scored Tuesday, leading the Falcons to a 12-1 win in five innings against the California Pintos in the Class 3 District 14 Tournament championship game.

"I don't really like sitting around much, so always being active is pretty much what I want to do," Hair said.

Blair Oaks won its first baseball district title since 2016. The last time the Falcons won district titles in football, boys basketball and baseball in the same school year was 2006-07.

"It's really special, since we haven't done that in a while," said Hair, who is the only Blair Oaks player to start on all three teams. "We're having a really good year (in baseball), even though we were struggling at the start.

"Hopefully it will keep on going."

Blair Oaks (19-11), ranked No. 9 in Class 3 by the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association, will play next Monday at District 13 champion Lamar (12-8) in the state sectionals. Game time has yet to be determined.

While the Falcons had to sweat through a semifinal win Monday against the Warsaw Wildcats, they left very little doubt as to whom would win Tuesday's championship game.

Blair Oaks scored four runs in the second inning and six more in the third to build a double-digit lead against the Pintos.

"We knew before the game even started that we were loose," Blair Oaks coach Mike DeMilia said. "(On Monday), I felt the tension in the dugout. Today, they were messing around in front of the dugout playing games. That's when we're at our best."

That doesn't mean it was always smooth sailing for Blair Oaks.

The Pintos' first three batters all reached base in the top of the first inning, but none of them made it to second base. The Falcons escaped by getting a force out, picking off a runner at first base and throwing out the third attempting to steal second base to end the inning.

"We did things to negate a little bit of sluggishness at the start," DeMilia said. "Once we got the lead, everybody relaxed, but our defense has been really good in the last 10-12 games."

Blair Oaks manufactured two runs in the bottom of the first inning without a base hit. The Pintos walked two batters and committed two errors in the inning.

"In games like this, it's not necessarily who makes the most plays that wins," DeMilia said. "It's who makes the least mistakes. We kept the pressure on them the entire game."

In the second, Jacob Stegemann and Hair each had an RBI single, while Kamron Morriss crushed a two-run double to the left-center field gap to extend Blair Oaks' lead to 6-1.

The Falcons sent 11 batters to the plate in the third inning and doubled their run total, despite making two outs on the basepaths. Hair and Parker Bax each had two-run singles in the inning.

"We did a good job of hitting the right pitches today," DeMilia said. "We have times when we swing at pitches out of the (strike) zone. Today, I don't know if we swung at one pitch out of the zone the entire day."

Blair Oaks' Nos. 1-4 hitters combined to have eight of the team's 10 RBI. Morriss matched Hair's total of three RBI.

Stegemann and Bax each finished with two RBI for the Falcons.

Blair Oaks pitcher David Dell faced one batter past the minimum in his five innings of work. Lucas Ash hit a leadoff double in the top of the second inning and then advanced from second base to home plate on back-to-back ground outs, cutting the Falcons' lead to 2-1.

Dell allowed just two hits — the other was a single by Gabe Bailey in the first inning — and struck out five. In 12 innings on the mound this season against the Pintos, Dell allowed just four hits and struck out nine batters, yielding just one run.

"He got into a groove there," DeMilia said of Dell, who retired the last 12 batters he faced after the first four reached base. " He was as good those last couple innings as he's been all year."

California finishes the season with a 14-9 record.

Blair Oaks, which has won its last nine games, will play a Lamar team that was the No. 4 seed in its district and knocked off Holden — which appeared in the Final Four last season — in the semifinals.

"We don't want to stop here, we want to keep this thing rolling next week," DeMilia said.