HAZELWOOD–While heading out to the third-base coach’s box before the bottom of the second inning, South-West Stars coach Grayling Tobias joked that he hoped his team would get “a couple more runs,” so a reporter covering the game would have more interesting material.
The Stars were trailing 7-1 to a hot-hitting Meramec Valley Travelers team at the time, and were already using their third pitcher in the game.
There was little reason to believe South-West would be able to come back.
Well, somebody forgot to tell that to the Stars as they went on a serious hitting and scoring binge throughout the next three innings, racking up 17 total hits on their way to a stunning 18-8 comeback win over the Travelers at the Hazelwood Sports Complex.
The Stars advance to the consolation semifinals of the 2011 SLABA League Championship Tournament.
“I’m very proud of our boys,” Tobias said. “We’ve overcome adversity all year. We’ve had guys out with injuries. And I’m just really proud of the guys that came (out) and hit today.”
Which, incidentally, was just about every guy on the team.
Of the Stars starting nine on Monday, eight of them reached base safely, one player had two hits, three starters had three hits, and hitting star Trevor Rakers, a senior-to-be at St. Mary’s High in St. Louis city, had four hits and four RBI to lead South-West.
“Trevor did a terrific job today,” Tobias said. “He’s been injured all year. He’s only been playing for about a month. But he’s an outstanding player. He’s got a big future, and the sky’s the limit for him.”
Another player who seemed to soar at the plate and on the bases for South-West was 2011 Parkway West grad Paul Moritz (from Ballwin).
The 5-foot,10-inch, 160-pound shortstop, who recently signed to play collegiately at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, had three hits, an RBI, four stolen bases, and four runs scored that really seemed to spur South-West’s comeback.
“He is our catalyst,” Tobias said. “He gets things started. He had a nice bunt base hit, and when (the defense) comes in, he slaps it by them. He steals bases. He goes from first to third. He is a complete player.”
Pitcher Ryan Schreiber got the win for the Stars after taking over in the second inning for starter David Fuhrmann, who just couldn’t find his good stuff and gave up five runs to the Travelers in the first inning.
Meramec Valley only had two hits in that initial inning, but made them count as Barat Academy grad Austin Schreck cleared the bases with a three-run double to give the Travelers a huge early lead.
Teammate and Barat classmate Blake Besancenez made it 7-1 in the top of the second with his second home run of the summer, and things seemed to be going well for the Travelers.
“But that’s baseball,” Travelers head coach Jeff Parker said. “Things can turn around on you real quick.”
So quick that Meramec Valley didn’t know what hit them.
The Stars scored five runs in the bottom of the second to cut the deficit to 7-6, then took the lead with eight runs in the third before putting the game away with four more runs in the fourth.
“I just couldn’t be prouder of how we played today,” Tobias said. “I guess we get to stay alive one more day.”
South-West (10-24), which already has one loss in the SLABA season-ending, double-elimination event, will play either American National or Stallions Baseball on Tuesday evening at the Hazelwood Sports Complex for a berth in the consolation finals.
The winner of that contest will advance to Friday’s championship final, where it will play either unbeaten Eagles West or the Jefferson County Blazers.
Meramec Valley finished its summer season with a 16-11 record.