Magical Undefeated Season - semo.net Civic Team Wins Double Championship
As Monday evening approached, both coaches did all they could to trim the nerves of these 8- to 10-year-olds as they took the field for the semi-finals game against Lynch’s Lawn Service. After an entire season where double-digit leads were common and balls were hit to the fence nearly every inning, it was hard for fans, coaches and players to keep their wits in a low-scoring, defensive duel.
By the end of the game, it was clear that semo.net’s bats were not going to come alive and it was up to their defensive skills to keep them in the game. Going into the top of the sixth and last inning, semo.net took the field leading 2 – 1.
With runners on 1st & 3rd and one out, a squib-hit stopped a few feet in front of the plate. Catcher Ben Becker looked back the runner at third and threw down to first for the out. With runners now at 2nd & 3rd, pitcher Jonathan Ausbon fielded the ball up the middle and threw out the batter to end the game and send semo.net to the finals, extending their chances to end the season undefeated.
With the semi-finals out of the way, and eighteen teams from two divisions narrowed down to the final two teams, the Civic League Championship game followed. This game pitted semo.net (National League Division 1st Place Winner), coached by Mike Coleman & Brian Becker, against Simmons Tire (National League Division 2nd Place Winner), coached by Doug Osborn & Brian Bess.
It wasn’t until the second time through their lineup that the bats of semo.net finally came alive. In the bottom of the third inning they took the lead 8 – 5, and extended their lead to 12 -5 in the bottom of the fourth. But the real story for semo.net was smart, defensive play by their younger players. At one point, Matthew Burcham, playing left center field, was backing up the shortstop, Kirby Coleman, on a pop-fly back behind 2nd base. The ball was barely out of reach and dropped to the ground in front of Burcham, who picked up the ball, noticed the runner at first was frozen because of the popup, and raced to 2nd with the ball to make the force out.
“Between Mike [Coleman] and I, we’ve coached six different Civic League teams, and we’ve never had such intelligent outfielders. Matthew’s play, from backing up the play, to picking up the live ball barehanded and racing to 2nd for the tag…I couldn’t be more proud. We had two 8-year-olds, Christian [Nelson] and Roshawn [McCain] who made great plays from the outfield along with Justin Moffit and Austin Nelson tonight.” stated Becker.
TJ Abney at second caught a line drive at a key part of the game.
Simmons Tire had hot bats throughout the night. Kolby Bess roped one to the right-field fence for an easy trip around the bases. And with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the fifth, Cole Cooper came to the plate for Simmons Tire and hit a deep shot to right field to clear the bases with a home run bringing the score to 12 – 9. But, unrattled, the semo.net defense dug in.
“Ronin [Rice] at first base didn’t let anything by him. He’s a solid ball payer.” noted Coach Coleman.
The three senior members of this team—Isaac Laseter, Kirby Coleman, and Ben Becker—have played more than 100 games together, and it showed as their leadership both on and off the field was evident. Laseter knocked down anything close to him with his glove. Coleman threw a dart off a relay from the fence to catcher Becker, shooting down an attempted inside-the-park home run.
Becker not only didn’t have any “pass balls” in the 12 innings, but also squeezed two third-strike tips for outs and threw out two runners at first, intimidating any opponents who might have thought of stealing a base.
Coach Becker summed it up with this: “Abner Doubleday didn’t invent baseball so people could be paid multi-million dollars to play. This is baseball: Fans cheering, coaches enthusiastic, umpires unwavering, and players on both teams having a great time. It was really anyone’s game to win. Simmons Tire is a great team. We just came out on top. What a great game.”