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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Charleston Squirrels kick off Sr. Babe Ruth state tournament with dominant 11-1 win over Monett

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Charleston Squirrels pitcher Braden Cox (left) is met by teammates after closing out the fourth inning against Monett during the opening round of the Missouri Senior Babe Ruth State Tournament Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at Hillhouse Park in Charleston, Mo.
(Chris Pobst/Standard Democrat)
CHARLESTON, Mo. -- Charleston head coach Micheal Minner's pregame message inside his team's huddle was precise and directly to the point. Wednesday was the start of their season and a World Series championship was on his mind.

The first step to that elusive title was cleared shortly after his speech when his Fighting Squirrels methodically dispatched Monett 11-1 in five innings during the opening round of pool play at the Missouri Senior Babe Ruth state tournament in Charleston, Mo.

It's been two years since the Squirrels won the state tournament and they were knocked out of a Midwest Plains Regional berth for the first time in nine seasons after a state tournament semifinal loss last year.

Charleston Squirrels pitcher Braden Cox delivers a pitch to a Monett batter during the opening round of the Missouri Senior Babe Ruth State Tournament Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at Hillhouse Park in Charleston, Mo.
(Chris Pobst/Standard Democrat)
Minner's squad took his pregame message to heart and looked like a team that wouldn't be denied another regional this year.

"Definitely business mode," Minner said. "I think we were locked in from the first pitch... We're here to win. After having a couple of years off from a state championship we're locked in right now. Our focus is to get out of here a winner. We're one game closer and put ourselves in a good position right now."

The Squirrels littered Monett with 10 hits -- three of them triples -- and gave starting pitcher Braden Cox more than enough room to get the win. Charleston scored runs in all but one inning by constantly putting pressure on Monett hurlers Brady Wright and Karter Brink.

The Squirrels (30-6) moved into the lead after the first inning when a two-RBI triple from Wyatt Pratt did the trick and they never relinquished.

"Offensively, our approach was good and I thought we had some pretty good at-bats," Minner said. "We got some guys in and if you give a lead to Braden Cox, you're going to be in pretty good shape."

Though two bloop singles put Monett ahead in the top of the first, Cox never wavered. He allowed just two more runners to reach the rest of the way while striking out nine. At one point, he fanned eight of 10 batters.

"He settled in and those two bloops are a part of pitching," Minner said. "You're going to have some not fall your way and so he was really good once the first inning got over with. He made big pitches and he got loose. His velocity was really good the third and fourth inning."

With Cox putting in work, the Squirrels offense made his night a bit easier.

Charleston went up 5-1 in the bottom of the third after a sacrifice fly by Trey McDaniel and a wild pitch that allowed Winston Welter to score.

Jason Jarrell started the fourth inning with a triple and was quickly pushed across after a single by Garrison Keene. Keene later scored on a two-out double by Ty Householder.

Bruce and Patricia Miller stand for pictures after being inducted into the Missouri Babe Ruth State Hall of Fame Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at Hillhouse Park in Charleston, Mo.
(Chris Pobst/Standard Democrat)
Charleston put the game away in the bottom of the fifth with four runs highlighted by an RBI single by Will Pratt and the game-winner from Keene that fell safely in centerfield for the mercy-rule win.

The Squirrels will take on the Southeast Tropics, who lost to the two-time defending champion Wayne County Lumberjacks, tonight at 7:15 p.m.

"It's important for us to play good baseball," Minner said. "We need to go take care of business again tomorrow."

NOTES: During a ceremony before the game, Bruce and Patricia Miller, of Dexter, were inducted into the Missouri Senior Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. The couple, who received a plaque and were greeted by players and umpires following the presentation, was responsible for bringing one of the first Senior Babe Ruth teams to the area.

Monett 100 00 -- 1 4 3

Charleston 302 24 -- 11 10 0

WP -- Braden Cox. LP -- Brady Wright. 2B -- Ty Householder (C). 3B -- Wyatt Pratt (C), Cox (C), Jason Jarrell (C). Multiple hitters: Monett -- Dale Slater 2-2. Charleston -- Householder 2-2, Garrison Keene 2-3.

Thursday Schedule

Pool Play
Charleston AA vs. Ultimate Sports, 11 a.m.
Monett vs. Wayne County Lumberjacks, 1:45 p.m.
Charleston AAA vs. Mineral Area, 4:30 p.m.
Charleston Fighting Squirrels vs. Southeast Tropics, 7:15 p.m.

Pool Play after Day 1
Charleston Squirrels 1-0
Wayne County Lumberjacks 1-0
Ultimate Baseball 1-0
Charleston AA 1-0
Southeast Tropics 0-1
Charleston AAA 0-1
Monett 0-1
Mineral Area 0-1