Ben Mitchell and EJ Myers have had plenty of big games for the Ballwin senior legion baseball team this summer, but few have been bigger than on Sunday afternoon (July 20).
Mitchell did it for Ballwin with his bat and arm and Myers drove home the eventual game winning run with a fifth inning single as the dynamic duo propelled Ballwin to a gripping 9-8 victory in the District 10 Championship game at Ellisville Athletic Association.
In a wild game that spanned three hours and featured 33 hits between the two clubs, it was Ballwin that was the last team standing and a day that left Myers almost speechless.
“It feels amazing (to win this),” Myers said. “There’s no words to describe it right now.”
For Mitchell, staying for the district meant missing out on a family vacation to Hawaii. It was a tough decision but after playing baseball most of his life, Mitchell felt that Hawaii would be there some other time.
“I just can’t leave these guys,” Mitchell said. “I knew if I bailed on this team and didn’t play that I would regret that decision the rest of my life. It was a tough decision since I had never been to Hawaii but I knew I needed to be here for my team.”
The game featured more ups and down than a Six Flags rollercoaster but for Ballwin coach Sean Rogan, it was nice to be on the long end of the scoreboard for a change after seeing his team come up just short in the district title game several times in the recent years.
“It feels great (to get this),” Rogan said. “Especially since Eureka has knocked us out a few times and now it’s become commonplace for us to compete for a district championship and our district is filled with so many good teams and it’s so hard to win.”
Both teams struggled with their starting pitching in the early going as Eureka built leads of 4-2 and 5-2 on Ballwin in the first two innings.
Ballwin (30-5) roared back ahead with four runs in the third inning as Zac Ruckman provided the big blow with a two-run triple to centerfield making it 6-5.
Eureka responded with two runs in the fifth to go up 8-7. Harrison Clark’s squeeze bunt evened the score at 7-7 and then Brennen Lummus singled home a run.
Then in the bottom of the fifth, Mitchell (Westminster and Covenant College) drove in a run and Myers (Lafayette and Jefferson College) ripped an RBI-single to left. Mitchell went 3 for 5 on the day while Myers had three hits.
Auggie Clark pitched three innings of shutout ball in relief of Brad Molski get the win and Mitchell pitched the game’s final inning to get the save.
Eureka, which slipped to 19-20 dropped its fourth game against district champ and rival Ballwin but turned in a championship effort in the process. Jesse Schuller paced Post 177 with four hits.
“We put ourselves in position with the win over Manchester in the morning (Sunday) and we’d love to take home the district 10 title every year but we tip our caps to Ballwin,” Eureka associate coach Cam Phillips said. “Unfortunately for us the breaks didn’t go our way today.”
Eureka opens Missouri Zone 4 tournament play Thursday in Festus against host Festus in a 4 p.m. game. Ballwin opens zone play against the Jackson-Rock-Memorial winner Thursday evening at 7 p.m. The championship game is set for Saturday at 7 p.m. at West City Park.
“It’s a lot tough teams and it will be another tough weekend like this,” Rogan said. “You’ve got to string together four victories and hopefully we can go win the state championship.”