According to Blair Oaks baseball coach Mike DeMilia, the Class 4 state quarterfinal game between Blair Oaks and St. Charles West has been postponed until 5 p.m. Friday at the Falcon Athletic Complex in Wardsville.
The Blair Oaks Falcons have been familiar with each of their previous postseason opponents. That won't be the case in the Class 4 state quarterfinal game.
Blair Oaks is set to host the St. Charles West Warriors, with the winner advancing to next week's Final Four in Ozark.
"The biggest thing we hear is they pitch and play defense," DeMilia said. "They've got a couple of really good arms."
St. Charles West (18-5) defeated Macon 4-1 in Tuesday's sectional round. Ray Rico struck out 15 batters for the Warriors in a complete-game effort.
The Falcons are expecting to face Josh Newell, a junior right-hander who struck out 13 batters last Friday in St. Charles West's 3-0 win against St. Dominic in the District 5 championship.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Newell has not allowed a run in his last 17 innings.
"They got off to a little bit of a slow start, but they've won a bunch in a row, and while playing a pretty decent schedule in St. Louis," DeMilia said. "I think they're going to be a pretty formidable opponent."
Both Blair Oaks and St. Charles West are allowing just three runs per game. However, the Falcons are scoring 7.9 runs per game to just 5.7 for the Warriors.
"They don't get scored on much," DeMilia said. "They're not a real strong offensive team, but they hit enough. They just find ways to win."
Blair Oaks (26-5), ranked No. 3 in Class 4, advanced in the state tournament with Tuesday's 6-0 sectional win at Boonville.
"I didn't expect to score six (runs) in the first two innings," DeMilia said. "I thought maybe we could win a 6-1 game, but I thought it would be a little more methodical, scoring a run here or a run there."
Each of Blair Oaks' nine starters had a hit in the game. Lane Libbert had three hits, including a leadoff home run in the first, and Gavin Wekenborg had two singles for the Falcons' other multi-hit performance.
"The whole lineup contributed from top to bottom," DeMilia said.
DeMilia said Wekenborg, a senior left-hander, will be the starting pitcher today for the Falcons. Wekenborg pitched five innings of relief last Thursday in the District 8 championship game against 10th-ranked Fatima, a 6-4 win in eight innings, striking out seven and walking four.
Wekenborg has a 6-0 record this season with 47 strikeouts and a 1.54 ERA in 32 innings.
"His ERA was below 1.00 a majority of the year," DeMilia said. "He's been good for us, I have 100 percent faith in him. I think he gives us our best chance to win."
Because Wil Libbert went six innings on the mound in Tuesday's win against Boonville, he'll be the only Falcon unavailable to pitch today, leaving DeMilia with plenty of arms should he need to go to the bullpen.
"We could do a lot of scenarios where we'll be OK, especially if the game went into extra innings," DeMilia said. "If Gavin doesn't have it, we certainly have a lot of options to go to, but I think he's going to step up and pitch a great game."
This is the second straight season Blair Oaks has reached the state quarterfinals. The Falcons won 10-0 in five innings against Lawson in 2019 to reach the program's third Final Four.
"We won our last 13 games two years ago, so we're 39-5 in our last 44 games," DeMilia said. "That's pretty impressive, and I think that shows how good of players we have."
Today will also be Blair Oaks' first home postseason game since the Lawson win. The Falcons are 7-1 in games at the Falcon Athletic Complex this season, the one loss being a 1-0 decision against Battle in the Columbia Tournament.
"I remember on Senior Night, they were like, 'We're going to play here again,'" DeMilia said. "I don't think any of them thought it was their last game here.
"If we can get to the Final Four again, that would be an amazing accomplishment for this group."