RUSSELLVILLE, Mo. — The idea was to have a playoff atmosphere in the final tournament of the season.
On Wednesday afternoon, mission accomplished.
"That was a good, fun game," Russellville coach Lucas Branson said after the Indians held off the Hermann Bearcats 6-5 in the quarterfinals of the Russellville Summer Baseball Tournament. "That was the goal of this tournament, to create a postseason-type competition and that game felt like that.
"Our kids responded, we've been in situations like that before and won those games."
Hermann got on the board with two outs in the first. Chase McKague singled and went to third on a double by Trent Anderson. Parker Anderson followed with a single to left to plate McKague, who had four hits in the game.
It took all of three pitches in the bottom of the first for Russellville to tie it when leadoff batter Dawson Koch powered a 1-1 offering over the fence in left center.
Landon Plochberger followed with a walk. One out later, Logan Cinotto singled to put runners at first and second. After a strikeout, Braden Hickey drilled a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left-center to give the Indians a 4-1 lead.
"Those home runs turned the momentum around pretty quickly," Branson said. "The focus is trying to win innings and if you fall behind by one in the top of the first? So what, move on and come back to try to win it in the bottom of the first."
Koch, Russellville's starting shortstop, made a great play on the other side of second base to get the second out of the second inning. It was one of several good plays in the field Wednesday in the win.
"Anytime you play good defense, you should be able to keep yourself in a game," Branson said.
Hermann cut the deficit to 4-2 with a run in the third scoring on a single by Jon Utley.
Russellville scored twice in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Hickey was hit by a pitch, followed by a walk to Chris Miller before a bloop single by Jesse Daniels made it 5-2. Alex Oligschlaeger followed with a RBI groundout.
Hermann got those two runs back in the top of the fourth to make it 6-4.
Miller, the Russellville starting pitcher, worked in and out of trouble in his five innings of work Wednesday. Hermann had at least one baserunner in every inning, including multiple baserunners in five of those frames.
"Our pitchers worked hard, but they did a good job of keeping their composure," Branson said.
Miller pitched five innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on nine hits and three walks while recording four strikeouts.
"Charlie was a freshman this year and we were going to count on him this spring," Branson said. "This was really the first time he pitched against high-quality competition at the high school level and he was fantastic."
Matt Miller, Charlie's older brother, gave up a run on two hits in the top of the sixth to cut Russellville's lead to 6-5.
Koch came on to pitch the top of the seventh. Hermann had runners at first and third with one out before Koch got the final two outs of the game on strikeouts.
"It went exactly how we wanted," Branson said. "We wanted a quality start out of Charlie, then bridge it to get to Dawson in the final inning."
Daniels had two hits to pace a seven-hit Russellville attack
Koch will start the semifinal against Prairie Home today for Russellville.
"He's a senior, he's our guy," Branson said.
Game time is noon. Prairie Home advanced with an 8-7 win against Vienna later Wednesday.
The semifinal winner will advance to the title game, slated to start at 4:30 p.m. The semifinal loser will play an elimination game at 2 p.m.
Russellville's JV team was eliminated from the tournament Wednesday with a 10-0 loss to the Fatima varsity squad.
The game lasted four innings.