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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Charleston Squirrels breeze past Wayne County, gain top seed for Senior Babe Ruth State Tournament

Friday, July 14, 2017

(Photo)
Charleston's Dylan Baugh congratulates pitcher Ronin Rice after a scoreless inning as catcher Garrison Keene looks on Friday, July 14, 2017, during the Missouri Senior Babe Ruth State Tournament at Hillhouse Park in Charleston, Mo.
(David Jenkins/Standard Democrat)
CHARLESTON, Mo. -- Charleston Squirrels players Will Pratt and Austin Hicks could afford to have a little fun inside the dugout Friday during the final night of pool play at the Missouri Senior Babe Ruth state tournament in Charleston, Mo.

The two took turns wearing a football helmet, which was fitting. The blitz was certainly on as the Squirrels easily made their way to Pool A's top seed.

(Photo)
Charleston's Ronin Rice throws a pitch to a Wayne County hitter on Friday, July 14, 2017, during the Missouri Senior Babe Ruth State Tournament at Hillhouse Park in Charleston, Mo.
(David Jenkins/Standard Democrat)
The Squirrels hammered the two-time defending state champion Wayne County Lumberjacks 14-0 behind their potent offense and a complete game shutout by Ronin Rice on the mound in five innings.

The win capped off a perfect, three-game run through Pool A and gave the Squirrels the top seed for Saturday's bracket play.

"I wish they were all this easy," Charleston coach Michael Minner said. "We got off to a hot start, got some guys on and got some hits. If you can jump on some people early you can put some pressure on. We did a great job offensively and then Ronin was really good."

Rice, a Poplar Bluff native and the reigning SEMO Conference Pitcher of the Year, held the Lumberjacks to four singles and allowed just one of his 21 batters that he faced to reach third.

The soft-tossing lefty struck out four and baffled Wayne County hitters with his four-pitch arsenal by changing speeds and dancing around the corners of the plate.

(Photo)
Charleston's Cole Nichols looks to home plate as he steals third against Wayne County on Friday, July 14, 2017, during the Missouri Senior Babe Ruth State Tournament at Hillhouse Park in Charleston, Mo.
(David Jenkins/Standard Democrat)
"He's the opposite of some of our guys, but he throws strikes and mixes it up," Minner said. "He's done a really, really good job this summer. Every time he goes out he's just been absolutely phenomenal. He just gets it done. He gets the good, left-handed movement and just knows how to pitch. We're glad he's on our team."

After Rice got through his first inning of work, the game was held up by a 30-minute lightning delay. The time off didn't hurt the Squirrels at all, who resumed the game with one out and one runner on and welcomed Wayne County starter Eli Stinson with an RBI double by Braden Cox.

The Squirrels (32-6) tacked on two more to take a 3-0 lead after the first inning.

The floodgates opened in the second after Charleston racked up five hits and pushed seven runs across. Palmer Campbell made it 9-0 with a two-run double and Trey McDaniel put the 10-run mercy rule in effect during the next at-bat with an RBI double.

The Squirrels finished with 12 hits -- four of them doubles. Ty Householder led the attack going 3 for 4 with three RBIs and a double. Eight players finished with at least one hit.

"We hit the ball up and down the lineup," Minner said. "This was a great game leading into the weekend."

(Photo)
Charleston's Will Pratt wears a football helmet and sunglasses as teammate Austin Hicks looks on during a lightning delay on Friday, July 14, 2017, during the Missouri Senior Babe Ruth State Tournament at Hillhouse Park in Charleston, Mo.
(David Jenkins/Standard Democrat)
The Squirrels took down Monett, the Southeast Tropics and Wayne County to finish their pool with a 3-0 record. They outscored their opponents 30-4 and used just four arms out of their immensely deep pitching staff for Saturday's bracket play, which is single-elimination.

"We've saved pitching only throwing four pitchers, so we're sitting pretty good," said Minner. "Now we go to lose and you go home. You can't have a slip up. Our goal is to win the state championship but also our goal is to playing in the Regional in Kansas next week."

The Squirrels will take on the Charleston AAA team, who defeated Charleston AA earlier in the day to advance to bracket play. The winner will move on to the championship game against either Ultimate Baseball or Wayne County at 7:30 p.m.

McDaniel, considered one of the Squirrels' top arms, will get the start against Charleston AA.

"We'll go heavy artillery in the morning," said Minner. "Our hopes were to get to this point and have Trey [McDaniel] on the mound. Then, we'll see what happens."

Wayne Co. 000 00 -- 0 4 1

Charleston 372 2x -- 14 12 1

WP -- Ronin Rice. LP -- Eli Stinson. 2B -- Ty Householder (C), Braden Cox (C), Palmer Campbell (C), Trey McDaniel (C). Multiple hitters: Charleston -- Cole Nichols 2-2, Householder 3-4.