A year after failing to finish against Henry Clay in the 42nd District semifinals, Sayre made the routine plays it needed to extend its season and walked away with 3-1 victory Monday night over the Blue Devils, ranked 20th in MaxPreps’ latest computer rankings of the state.
Sayre, an unranked No. 3 seed in the 42nd District tournament, scored two runs in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Seth Hojnacki and a single by Sam Van Balen. Josh Morgan scored on a passed ball in the fifth inning for the Spartans’ only other run in the game, played at Bryan Station.
It’s the second time in three years that Sayre, a Class A private school, will play in the district finals and make a trip to the 11th Region tournament. Until 2015, when the Spartans knocked off Scott County in the semifinals, the program hadn’t achieved either of those goals since 1997.
The Spartans might have made it three in a row if not for a meltdown against Henry Clay in the final frame of last year’s contest. They took a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning but left Georgetown with a 4-3 loss.
“We learned from that last year,” Sayre Coach Kevin Clary said. “We made a couple of errors in that last inning that really hurt us. If we’d have made the routine plays we’d have won that game.”
The Spartans didn’t exactly make it easy on themselves in the last inning this time, either. Henry Clay’s first batter, Ray Hukill, singled to start the seventh inning. Sayre turned a 1-6-3 double play to erase Hukill and the second batter, Jose Gonzalez. A fly ball to left field was dropped and allowed Jared Pierce to reach first before a grounder to shortstop Sam Seahorn ended things.
“That’s why I don’t have any hair, right there,” Clary said with a laugh. “They’ve taken every bit of hair I’ve got off my head.”
Seahorn was involved in several outs throughout the night for Sayre, including all three putouts as the Spartans retired the side in the sixth inning.
“He played excellent,” Sayre pitcher Cameron Stiglich said. “Every ball that was hit to him he made. That’s what won us the game, is defense.”
Stiglich threw a complete game and got the win for the Spartans. He struck out three batters and gave up only four hits, three of those coming in the first three innings.
His nerves got to him to start off the game, the junior confessed.
“When you’re throwing out here in front of the whole entire Henry Clay section, there’s college coaches here and all kinds of people, you get the jitters,” Stiglich said. “Before the game you’re thinking ‘You know what, I’ve got to do my job,’ and you get out here and you’re like ‘Wow, this is something else.’”
“You’re not used to throwing in front of that many people, and you just have to relax and get your composure. It’s very tough to do, I will admit.”
42nd District finals at Bryan Station
7 p.m.: Sayre vs. Bryan Station-Scott Co. winner