NEOSHO, Mo. — Top-seeded McDonald County wasted little time imposing its will on eighth-seeded Ruskin, pushing across crooked numbers in the second, third and fourth innings on the way to a 15-0 win in four innings in the final game of the Class 5 District 7 opening round at Roy B. Shaver Field on Saturday.
“That is kind of what we wanted,” McDonald County coach Kevin Burgi said after the win. “We wanted to piece together good at-bats. Even in the first inning, I know we didn’t have anything to show for it, but I liked what I saw. We wanted (the entire lineup) to put together quality at-bats and I was happy with what I saw.”
The Mustangs advance to take on fourth-seeded Carl Junction at 6 p.m. on Monday in the district semifinals.
“I am expecting a really good baseball game,” Burgi said of his semifinals matchup. “They are really well coached, dominate routine plays, throw strikes and put good at-bats together. When you are playing a team like that, you know Coach (Jake) Stevenson will have them ready.”
Cross Dowd, who also doubled at the plate and scored a run, earned the win after allowing one hit, walking one and striking out five in two scoreless innings of work. Rylan Armstrong struck out three in one relief inning, while Angel Ruiz allowed two hits and struck out one in an inning of relief.
“We got to throw some guys and I was really happy with what I saw from all of them,” Burgi said. “We knew Cross was going to throw strikes because he has done that all year, but I was excited to see the other guys come in and have success, too.”
Donsha Finley took the loss after allowing 12 runs, eight earned, on eight hits, four walks and strikeout in three innings.
McDonald County started the scoring with five runs crossing the plate in the second inning. Weston Gordon stepped into the box with the bases full of Mustangs and delivered a three-run triple to left-center for a 3-0 lead. Fisher Sanny followed with a triple to left field to plate another run. Cole Martin wrapped the scoring in the frame with a sacrifice fly.
“You just want your kids to get comfortable,” Burgi said of his team’s approach at the plate. “That is the biggest thing when it’s win or go home. You want your guys to be comfortable and getting out to a lead helps that. Once we got the lead, I thought we played pretty well.”
The Mustangs didn’t let up in the next half inning, pushing across seven more runs to take complete control with a 12-0 lead. Destyn Dowd and Gordon had back to back run-scoring singles before Sanny delivered a two-run single to center field to push the lead to 9-0. McDonald County added three unearned runs later in the inning to extend the lead to double digits.
MCHS added insurance to the lead in the fourth inning when Sanny picked up an RBI with a groundout. A second run came home on a passed ball and Martin ended the game shortly after with an RBI single to left to bring home the 15th run.
“It’s senior leadership,” Burgi said when asked about his team’s ability to avoid complacency with a big lead early. “I don’t have to say anything. It’s all those guys. It has been a really, really good year and they have been outstanding.”
Gordon and Sanny, who both tripled and had four RBI apiece, and Destyn Dowd each had three hits to lead the Mustangs. Gordon scored three runs, while Sanny also scored a run. Dowd scored twice and drove in one. Martin had one hit, drove in two and scored a run.