(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
COLUMBIA -- The Oran Eagles are soaring into the Class 1 championship game as a result of their 7-3 win against the Concordia Orioles on Wednesday evening at Taylor Stadium in Columbia.
Playing as the visiting team for the second straight game did not hurt the Eagles (22-2) as their leadoff hitter Nathan Seyer smacked a double to left to start the game.
Seyer later scored on dribbler down the third base line by Tyler Cookson.
The early Oran lead didn't last long as result of an error by Ryne Wood which allowed the Concordia (17-3) leadoff hitter Ross Dreeszen to make it safely to first and eventually score on a sacrifice fly by Tristan Engle.
The score remained knotted at 1-1 until the top of sixth inning when Oran pitcher Trey Graviett helped his own cause with a solo home run to left field to lead off the inning, making the score 2-1.
Two batters later, Joey Bickings also launched a rocket over the left field wall to give Oran a 3-1 lead.
As fast as Oran gained the lead in the top of the sixth, the Orioles tied it up again in the bottom of the sixth inning. After a leadoff walk to Justin Hilliard, Concordia's Engle struck again with a single to left, followed by a balk called on Oran's Graviett.
This led to Concordia's Kory McKnight blasting a double and scoring both Engle and Hilliard to tie the game at 3-3.
The top of the seventh brought fans from Concordia and Oran to their feet as the teams began the final inning.
A quick leadoff single to left center by designated hitter Garrett Roslen began the inning. After a failed bunt attempt by Patrick Friga, Seyer followed up with a single.
With one out, Ryne Wood made up for his earlier error with a single that would score Roslen and give Oran a 4-3 lead.
Graviett then came up with the big blow, a two-run triple to give the Eagles a 6-3 lead.
One more run would come in on a sacrifice fly by Cookson to stretch the lead to 7-3.
But Concordia wouldn't go quietly.
The bottom of the seventh began with a leadoff single up the middle by Concordia's Lenz.
Bryan Sartin grounded into a double play and Dreeszen was fanned by Graviett to end the game.
Graviett finished with seven strikeouts while allowing just five hits.
Oran head coach Mitch Wood placed the reasons for their victory over Concordia squarely on the shoulders of their defense and pitching despite the early mistakes.
Since being shutout 6-0 by Kelly on May 6, the Eagles have won 11 games in a row.
Oran now has 53 home runs this season which ranks third best all time according to the Missouri State High School Activities Association records.
The Eagles will now face the Sparta Trojans (20-1), who were 14-6 winners against New Franklin in the other semifinal game.
The Eagles will be shooting for the school's first state championship tonight at 8 p.m. at Taylor Stadium on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus.