After going 2-2 in pool play and then beating Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada and Paola, Kan., the 11-year olds from Lamar wound up winning the 2011 Cal Ripken 11U Midwest Plains Regional baseball tournament by defeating the Mineral Area National All-Stars, 5-4 on Thursday.
"This is a very hard working group of boys," Lamar manager Brian Kane said. "They've been practicing, at least once sometimes twice, a day since June."
Lamar scored all of their five runs in the fourth inning by taking advantage of three errors by Mineral Area's defense. Davin Jacobs provided the spark for Lamar after smacking a three run triple that hit the right-centerfield gap, which barely escaped the grasp of Missouri centerfielder Cody Manion.
A throw to try and get Jacobs out at third base scooted out of the field of play which gave Jacobs a free pass to the plate and Lamar a 5-2 lead.
Jacobs is no stranger to coming up with the big hit. He had the game-winner against Paola, Kan., during Lamar's very first game of the tournament last Friday.
"He fell a little dry since then," Kane said about Jacobs' Paola winner. "But, he came up when we needed some runs and just popped the ball. He just drove the ball.
"Once we get on and once we catch a break, we take advantage of it."
Although feeling deflated after Jacobs' heroics, Mineral Area fought back with two runs in the fifth inning after back to back doubles from Jason Mahurin and Lucas Spray scored both Briley Smith and Mahurin.
After holding Lamar scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning, Mineral Area had one last shot to tie or take the lead in the top of the sixth.
Two straight walks to Cody Hubbard and Dawson Harper with one out put the Nationals where they wanted to be with at least one runner in scoring position.
Hubbard advanced to third on a fly ball to right field off the bat of Manion. But, with two outs recorded, Mineral Area needed something positive to go their way.
Lamar's Max Carere, however, who came in to relieve Colton Eberhardt in the top of the sixth, coaxed a small pop fly to his first baseman, Tyler Geddes, to end the game and give Lamar a Regional championship.
Despite scoring five runs, Lamar only compiled three hits. Outside of scoring their five runs in the fourth, Lamar can only account for one other runner in scoring position, which happened in the seventh inning.
"We scored a lot of runs throughout the state tournament, but we came out here and we were flat," Kane said. "We didn't put a lot of runs up. We came through our round robin, which was tough, and we squeaked into the bracket. We got here and the boys starting hitting. Our defense rose with our hitting and they came through."
Mineral Area, however, totaled nine hits. They also stranded eight baserunners.
Smith and Mahurin each had two doubles apiece for the Mineral Area as Spray added a double and single to their total.
"All of these teams have been great," Kane said about their experience in Sikeston. "Our boys have enjoyed all of these teams that have been cordial and nothing but nice to us. I can't say enough about Michele Gilmer and the job that she has done running this tournament. They've took care of us and it's been phenomenal."