GOWER, Mo. — A late two-RBI single from East Buchanan’s Luke Webb gave the Bulldogs their first lead of Monday’s Class 2 sectional and ultimately their first sectional victory in school history, propelling them to a 6-5 win over Bishop LeBlond on Monday in Gower.
With the Bulldogs trailing by one run in the seventh inning with bases loaded, two outs on the board and a full count, it would be hard to contrive a more dire situation for either side.
East Buchanan (16-8) coach Dave Elms was plenty happy to see Webb’s deciding blow drop into the outfield.
“Credit goes to Luke, he’s worked really hard. He’s caught fire here these last couple weeks, he’s battled out there and wasn’t gonna go down,” he said. “That’s on him wanting to work hard and just outdo somebody.”
Webb was nonchalant about his history-making strike.
“Coach Elms has always preached that if you put the ball in play, something good will happen,” Webb said. “So I was just doing the best I could to make a hit. Happened to make one, it fell through, and scored.”
The hit capped off a slow, grueling rally after being down 4-1 after four innings. LeBlond (7-14) played a smart game early on, not overextending at the plate and making good use of their on-base opportunities. Junior Bradeyn Dawson showed out for the Eagles early on, collecting two RBIs and making a pair of miraculous throws from the outfield to stifle prime scoring opportunities for the Bulldogs.
In the latter half of the game, East Buchanan picked up steam. With starting pitcher Chris Guldan sent to the dugout, the rest of the Eagles bullpen struggled to halt the plodding comeback effort. Senior Blake Antle connected on a two-RBI double to cut the deficit to one run, and a single from sophomore Bronco Whitt tied up the game.
Pitching in relief for starter Kaden Woodside, Whitt had his ups and downs in the most important game of his life. After he walked in a runner to give LeBlond a lead, Whitt knew he needed to finish strong after his team regained the lead in the top of the seventh.
“I started struggling in that first inning and he stuck with me and had that confidence in me,” Whitt said. “He said there was no one they’d rather have up there, it felt great.”
Both teams were coming off of emotional, nail-biting district championship victories. LeBlond coach Myles McLaughlin said that ultimately the game came down to missed opportunities.
“We put the ball in play on them, we had chances. In the sixth inning we had a chance there and we didn’t capitalize on them,” he said. “We had our opportunities but hats off to them, that’s a talented team.”
Elms noted that the team’s season of tight wins and adverse situations uniquely prepares them for these big-time moments.
“It could have been real easy for them, they’re out of school, there’s a lot of seniors on this team that have already graduated,” Elms said. “They could have given in when we were down but they battled, and I think those past experiences came through for us tonight.”
Next up, the Bulldogs will travel to Lone Jack on Wednesday for the Class 2 quarterfinals.