OZARK — When the Fort Zumwalt West Jaguars hit the ball hard, they scored. When they hit the ball softly, they still scored.
It was that kind of night Friday in the Class 6 semifinals, as the Jefferson City Jays fell out of it early in an 11-0 defeat against the Jaguars in five innings at U.S. Baseball Park.
"We did some things tonight that were uncharacteristic of our team, just some routine stuff," Jefferson City coach Kyle Lasley said.
Fort Zumwalt West will try to win its first state title tonight against the Liberty Blue Jays, who defeated C.B.C. 8-2 in Friday's other semifinal. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
"That's a dang good team over there," Lasley said. "If I was a betting man, I would say they are the favorite to win the state championship."
The Cadets and Jays will match up at 4 p.m. today in the third-place game.
"We know they can swing it, very solid defensively, pitching," Lasley said of C.B.C., which defeated Jefferson City 7-4 in eight innings this season. "They're just like everybody right now. They've just got a little bit of everything."
Fort Zumwalt West sent 10 batters to the plate in each of the first two innings, scoring 11 runs.
Jaguars starting pitcher Noah Hargraves helpled his cause with a two-run hit in each of the first two innings.
Hargraves grounded a single up the middle in the first to make it 3-0 and sailed a high fly ball to deep center field for a double in the second to push the lead to 7-0.
The first five Jags reached base, starting with Tanner Perry beating out a throw to first base on a grounder to the shortstop.
An opportunity for a double play was denied with a low and wide throw to first base, allowing runners to be on the corners.
A wild pitch plated Perry. Then a pair of walks , a passed ball and two singles helped four more Jags cross the plate in the five-run first.
"The first inning was obviously a little bit of a disaster," Lasley said. "There's a thing on the board in our facility that says win the last game, so I said, 'You've got to put this one behind us.' Third place sounds a lot better than fourth place."
The Jays were aggressive at the plate, but the Jags' fielding didn't falter.
Nick Williams was the Jays' first baserunner on a single to center field, but a double play followed.
Jefferson City put a pair of runners in scoring position in the third on back-to-back singles by Wyatt Fischer and Jeremy Parks and an Eli Moreland sacrifice bunt, but Hargraves snuffed out that scoring chance with a swinging strikeout and a groundout to the second baseman.
Jags shortstop Perry touched the second-base bag and threw to first for a double play on a grounder when runners were on the corners.
Jefferson City once again put runners on the corners in the fifth on a Parks triple on a fly ball that dropped and rolled past a diving right fielder, followed by a Moreland walk.
Hargraves escaped again, striking out the next batter swinging and ending it with a groundout.
Hargraves struck out five, walked one and allowed four hits.
"He got in a sequence there and I think we just took a little bit too long to figure it out," Lasley said.
Tanner Schmitz relieved Jays starter Jacob Roettgen in the second, striking out two and allowing a hit in 2 1/3 innings.
"He kept it in the zone and he was able to be effective with his off-speed," Lasley said. "Tanner has been really good for us in the last two weeks, which is why he went out there in that one."
Fort Zumwalt West (35-4) scored 11 runs (six earned) on six hits and four walks against Roettgen, who struck out four in 1 2/3 innings.
Parks led the bats for Jefferson City (22-14) from the No. 8 spot in the lineup with two hits.
"They kept their swings short," Lasley said of the batters at the bottom of the order. "They were disciplined for the most part."
Hargraves tallied three of the Jags' seven hits and drive in four runs.
"Credit to them, they put some good swings on some baseballs," Lasley said.