The Howell Vikings baseball team finished off another postseason run on Friday afternoon with an 8-2 victory over Jefferson City in the Class 5 championship at CarShield Field in O’Fallon, Mo.
Howell (29-11) used a pair of four run innings to dispatch the Jefferson Jays, and claim the school’s fourth state championship and third in the last five seasons.
“I’ve coached out of this senior class about nine players since they were like eight years and you develop those relationships with with the players and the families,” Francis Howell coach Tony Perkins said.”To see those kids grow up, mature, and achieve the goals they set for themselves is so satisfying. It never gets old.”
It was Viking senior catcher Luke Kahle that triggered the Vikings offense in the top of the third. Kahle slapped a two-out, two-run single to center field to put the Vikings out in front.
Junior designated hitter McGuire Dean followed with a RBI-single to center and senior first baseman Brady Wildschuetz capped off the Vikings eruption with a run-scoring dink single down the left field line and Howell was up 4-0 quickly.
“We manufactured some runs and there and it was good to get that four-spot up,” coach Perkins said.
In the top of the sixth, the Vikings eight hit attack was back at it again.
Dean led off with a triple to right center field and came home to score on Chase Beiter’s ringing double into the left-field corner.
Senior left fielder Joey Land doubled home Beiter and Trevor Rhoads singled to left, plating Land.
Justin Perkins reached base and junior right fielder Kyle Grantham bunted his way on to load the bases with one out. Then with bases loaded, Ryan Perkins’ sacrifice fly to center field finished out another four run rally for Howell. Grantham broke the school’s hit record with two bunt hits in the championship game.
That sixth inning uprising chased Jefferson City starter Jackson Bohlken.
Bolken gave up seven runs on seven hits in five and a third innings as he suffered the loss. Bolken finished the season at 6-3.
Jefferson City (29-7) touched Howell starter Justin Perkins for two runs in the bottom of the sixth.
A Jacob Weirich sac fly and an RBI-single from third baseman Logan Schmitz accounted for the Jays runs.
Perkins pitched into the sixth inning, and was tough as nails on the hill as he surrendered just two earned runs, ending his senior season at 5-1.
“He (Justin) pitched out of a couple of jams and was a real bulldog, and it was great see him close out his career with a win,” coach Perkins said.
Braydon Cook closed out the action with 18 pitches of relief work and gave just two hits.
Howell finished the 2016 season with a 12-game winning streak and the victory was number 501 for Perkins, the long-time Howell coach.
Arguably the most special part of the state title win for the Vikings was that Perkins, the coach, got to share the moment with his twin sons Ryan and Justin on the field as the senior duo heads to Murray State to continue their careers next fall.
“It’s storybook, and to able to put in time and efforts ever since they were born they’ve been on a ball field, and to finish their high school careers with them on a championship team is just that makes you tear up every time every time you think about it,” Coach Perkins said. I’m fortunate they were good players and they were so focused the last three weeks and they had that goal in mind (to win state).”