Oakville Tigers finish fourth in Missouri

Coach says team chemistry propelled Tigers to semifinals.

The senior class of Oakville High School's baseball team is shown with its fourth-place state trophy Saturday night after finishing a 22-9 season. Team members surprised everyone but themselves this season after graduating 15 seniors from last year's squad, including nine starters. 'That Oakville organization is a class act,' said Webb City Head Coach Shawn Mayes after playing the Tigers Friday evening.

The senior class of Oakville High School's baseball team is shown with its fourth-place state trophy Saturday night after finishing a 22-9 season. Team members surprised everyone but themselves this season after graduating 15 seniors from last year's squad, including nine starters. 'That Oakville organization is a class act,' said Webb City Head Coach Shawn Mayes after playing the Tigers Friday evening.

By BILL MILLIGAN

The Oakville Senior High School baseball team finished fourth in Missouri last weekend at Meador Park in Springfield, a fitting tribute to a program that has gone 130-50 under Rich Sturm since he took over as head coach early this decade.

The team lost 7-2 to 23-7 Webb City Friday night and 4-3 against 24-5-1 Kansas City Rockhurst Saturday night, but held leads during both contests.

This was done by a program that lost 15 seniors and nine starters from a team that was ranked tops in Missouri in 2009.

“The team is disappointed with the way they played, but they’ll remember this tournament forever,” Sturm said after Saturday’s game. “There are hundreds of programs like ours in this state and a lot of them would like to be where we are now.

“I’m extra proud of what we’ve accomplished this year. This is a fun group to be around,” he added.

On Friday, Oakville led 2-0 against eventual second-place finisher Webb City after first baseman Jacob Russo was hit by a pitch.

Junior Mike Shore pinch ran for Russo and advanced to second on a bunt by left fielder Tim Chambliss.

He scored on a throwing error that moved Chambliss to third.

The Tigers were facing 14-1 Tyler Burgess and took advantage of a passed ball that allowed Chambliss to score.

Shortstop Ryan Simmons doubled on a 2-2 pitch that would have been a home run at Oakville.

Center fielder Andrew Pichler singled to advance Simmons and Webb City walked third baseman Tyler Bunge to load the bases, but Burgess struck out the next batter to end the threat.

“I didn’t know anything about Oakville, but they’re tough,” Burgess said after the game.

Burgess went 4-4 at the plate with one RBI.

Ryan Daniels went 61⁄3 innings before being relieved by Chad Gendron with two runners on base. Burgess promptly doubled in the winning run.

On Saturday, Simmons started the third inning with a single and advanced on a bunt single by Pichler.

Both runners scored on a two-out single by Tim Dalton. Dalton worked his way to third on a throwing error and a single by Russo. He scored on a Chambliss single up the middle.

Rockhurst scored an unearned run in the bottom of the third and added three more in the fourth.

“We extended the season as long as we possibly could,” Sturm said. “We competed very well the entire weekend. It was team chemistry that got us here and drove us this weekend.”

Oakville loses 10 seniors from this year’s squad. Ten juniors and three sophomores will be waiting their turn next season.