By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Savannah coach Erich Bodenhausen said Wednesday that no lead is safe in high school baseball. Much less in the postseason.
The Savages (28-5), however, built themselves a safety net early, scoring eight runs in the bottom of the first and limiting Maryville's offense the rest of the way in a 9-3 win over the Spoofhounds in the Class 4 District 16 championship game at Phil Welch Stadium in St. Joseph Wednesday.
Savannah scored those first eight runs on three hits and six walks, facing three Maryville pitchers in the first inning. It also marks the fifth time the Savages have beaten the Spoofhounds head-to-head this season alone.
"They've worked real hard," coach Bodenhausen said on the victory. "They worked hard in the offseason and put in a lot of time. I'm proud of them. We thought last year, after we lost to Lafayette (in the district championship) 7-0, we'd have a chance this year. So, I'm proud of these guys."
Savannah, winning its fifth district title since 2011, kept Maryville's bats quiet early, as senior pitcher and Northwest Missouri State signee Ty Hilsabeck struck out four of the seven batters he faced in the second and third innings combined.
"It felt good," Hilsabeck said. "It makes you a lot more confident on the mound when you know everyone behind you is going to make the play and then you're dealing, too. So, it feels good."
Maryville (12-9) got on the board in the top of the fourth, but Savannah answered with an RBI triple from Benedictine commit Aiden Leonard, which scored Heisman LaFave, putting the Savages ahead 9-1.
The Spoofhounds had their best rally in the top of the sixth, scoring two runs on three hits - all with two outs. Boston Hageman and Spencer Scott each had RBI singles in the frame.
While Savannah was held scoreless in the final two innings, Ashton Kincaid relieved Hilsabeck on the mound in the seventh, and put Maryville down in order with a strikeout and two flyouts.
"It feels amazing," Hilsabeck remarked. "Especially after last year, getting so close and losing the big game against Lafayette. Coming back and getting the district championship really means a lot."
Hilsabeck finished his day with six strikeouts and no walks, though he hit two batters. LaFave, Truman Bodenhausen and Wyatt Jackson each had a pair of hits to lead the way offensively. Bodenhausen also had a team-best two runs scored.
"It's an honor," Bodenhausen said. "It shows that we're the best in the district, so...that's good to know."
Savannah, now seeking its fourth Final Four berth and first ever state title, awaits the winner of St. Pius X (16-3) and Excelsior Springs (19-18), who play for the Class 4 District 15 title on Thursday at 5 p.m.
The Savages will play the winner of that game on May 24 in the state sectional round at a time and place to be determined, though it's likely Savannah will host the sectional game.
After falling to Lafayette 7-0 in the district title last season, Savannah is grateful to be back in the state tournament, and the team is hopeful that their early-game success against Maryville on Wednesday can carry into next week.
"We expect to play good baseball every year," coach Bodenhausen said. "We expect to be in this situation every year. The hard part is winning districts. Once you get past that, now you just kind of roll the dice and now you have to win two games to get to the state championship series."
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