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Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

Upstart Charleston hoping late season success continues

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

(Photo)
Charleston's Marshall Stallings connects for a basehit against Malden in a Class 2 sectional game last week. David Jenkins, Staff
SPRINGFIELD -- Already defying the expectations of everyone but the most diehard Bluejay fans, Charleston enters the start of today's Class 2 Show Me Showdown just two wins from the first state baseball championship in school history.

"We're on borrowed time," Bluejays' head coach Michael Minner said. "We don't know what to expect, but after playing against the quality teams we've played against so far and having the success we've had, we feel like we belong out there and we're as good as anybody left."

Of all the wins against the 'quality teams' Minner speaks of, none was bigger than last Thursday's 1-0 upset win over the top Class 2 team in the state, Valle Catholic, that propelled Charleston to this week's Show Me Showdown and improved their record to 16-9.

With ace James Naile pitching a complete game shutout on the mound, the Bluejays got a line drive to center field from Marshall Stallings in the fifth inning to drive in Cole Byford from third for the only run of the game.

"Valle is about as good of a baseball team as you'll play," said Minner. "I'm pretty sure when everybody saw Charleston and Valle were matched up in the quarterfinals everybody was planning on Valle being in the final four.

"Fortunately for us we haven't listened to anybody all year."

Once again turning to Naile to keep their championship dreams alive, the Bluejays first test in the Showdown comes this morning at 10 a.m. when they play the New Bloomfield Wildcats.

Under first year coach Brandon Talbot, New Bloomfield was able to withstand a two-run seventh inning rally by Elsberry in the quarterfinals to hold on for a 5-4 win.

Coming into the Wednesday's matchup the Wildcats have posted a 17-4 record and scored 32 runs in four postseason games.

"Any team left in the final four is a good team right now," Minner said of playing New Bloomfield. "But as far as the teams left I would have to say Valle is good as any team that's going to be out there.

"So for us to be able to get past them we feel good about our chances."

After four straight one-run postseason wins by the the Bluejays, Minner added he hopes his squad can produce a few more runs to take a little pressure of the pitching and defense.

"We have to swing the bats," he said. "You never know which offensive team is going to show up. At times we've been great and times we haven't, but we've been good enough to win all our postseason games"

If Charleston can get past the Wildcats they will move on the play the winner of Clever/Summit Christian Academy for the Class 2 state championship Thursday at 1 p.m.

"No matter what happens we've had a heck of a season and this has been a tremendous run," said Minner. "We couldn't be prouder to just still be playing."


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