The baseball just did not favor Camdenton in a Class 5 sectional game against Glendale Wednesday night.
In a game with plenty of hard-hit balls, most of those hits that came from Laker batters found the gloves of Falcon outfielders and the visitors managed to break the deadlock in the fifth inning to bring Camdenton’s season to an end in a 6-0 defeat.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. It was just about keeping ourselves in the game, in sight there in those fifth, sixth and seventh innings,” said Camdenton coach Bryce Durnin whose club lost to the Ozark Conference foe 7-2 earlier this season. “We were there, but the one inning I think we left the ball up a few times and they were able to take advantage of that.
“I’m just proud of our guys, everything they’ve done and everything they stand for. Can’t say enough about their effort and just them as young men. I’m proud of them.”
Camdenton’s Garrett Stamper got the call on the hill and found himself in a pitcher’s duel that produced four scoreless innings until Glendale found its stride in the fifth. The Falcons scored all six of their runs in the inning off seven hits when Stamper had only allowed two hits in the previous four.
“Stamper has been our guy for two years so I never doubt that kid and he knows I never doubt him,” Durnin said of the pitcher’s tough break down the stretch. “I believe since Stamper knows that, he pitches better and performs better whether he is on or off and he has got to grind that out. I’m grateful just to have that relationship with Garrett.”
Durnin was going to give his starter a chance to get out of the jam and Glendale just continued to have some timely hits when the previous four innings told a different story. Stamper finished his day with 4 1/3 innings of work allowing six runs on nine hits and a walk to go with two strikeouts. Ethan Folks worked the final 1 2/3 innings allowing just a single hit while striking out two.
There were some opportunities for Camdenton to provide some offensive relief as well as Drake Miller, Brandon Pasley and Folks produced a hit each, but no runs crossed the plate. The Lakers left five men on base and three runners in scoring position.
“One good play and I think we cut that inning short. We just did not have that and from a hitting standpoint, we were right there and barreling baseballs,” Durnin said “I’ve been coaching this game long enough to know that sometimes you lose games like that and sometimes you are very grateful to win games when you feel like the other team outhit you. I did feel like we out-barreled them through this game today, but you just tip your hat to Glendale and just hope they continue to represent the Ozark Conference.”
Camdenton ends the season 17-10, which is the program’s second straight year with at least that many wins. The Lakers also concluded a season with the first district title in 30 years and the right to claim a spot as one of the 16 best Class 5 teams left in the state of Missouri.
Durnin said a lot of the credit belongs to his group of seven seniors.
“They are just winners in the school day first. They won it up there in the classroom, made great decisions and that just trickles down to this baseball field,” he said. “They find ways to win and believe in each other, they have good heads on their shoulders and I think sometimes that does not show up in a batting average or their ERAs, but we had seven winners.”
And as the season wore on and the club took out higher seeds in district play, entering the postseason as a fifth seed in the Class 5 District 9 Tournament, they did so without fear and just went out and played the game.
“I think this year that was a big message, ‘Hey we can do anything.’ We were not scared in districts and felt like we had a good shot, even when they picked us as a fifth seed,” Durnin remarked. “If anything I just think it motivated us more and put more pressure on everyone else.
“We played loose, smiled- everyone but me," the coach joked, “through all the games and tense moments and we just knew a game was not going to define us win or lose. That has been the mantra of these guys so I’m proud of them.”
Ultimately, the example that was set is a good precedent for returning and future Lakers to follow.
“Those guys sent the message no matter what was going to go on around us in this community, this conference or our schedule, no matter what anybody said about what we were doing and how we were doing it, they were going to keep their eyes forward,” Durnin noted. “They were going to continue to try to make one great play at a time, one great decision after another and let the chips fall where they may and not get bent out of shape if they were to even think about losing.”
Time will tell what the next chapter of Camdenton baseball has in store.