LAMAR, Mo. — The Lamar Tigers fell behind 4-0 after two and 6-0 after four innings during their season-ending 9-3 loss Tuesday against Stockton in a Class 3 Sectional 6 contest at Shoff Field inside the Lamar City Park.
Stockton, ranked fourth in Class 3 in the final regular season poll of the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association, improved to 22-4 overall and the visiting Tigers won their 11th straight game by pushing across one run in the first, three in the second, two in the fourth, and three in the seventh while their pitchers Easton Hubbard and Sayge Painter limited the host Tigers to a three-spot in the sixth.
Down 4-0 in the third, Lamar started a two-out rally as senior Ty Willhite reached on an error, sophomore Alex Wilkerson singled to left, and sophomore Cooper Haun worked a walk to load the bases.
Hubbard worked his way out of the jam though when he induced Tyler Ansley into a fielder’s choice to end the inning and preserve the 4-0 lead.
In the next half-inning, Stockton pushed across two more for a six-run advantage.
“I always said the greatest thing about baseball is that we go into every game with one goal: Hit the ball hard when you’re up to bat,” Lamar coach Thad Lundine said. “I can go back and tell you we probably had 15 hard-hit balls that were right at people, and that’s why I say it’s the best sport in the world because you throw everything you’ve got in one basket and guess what … sometimes you’re not going to be successful.
“It teaches you to be a man, it teaches you to grow up, and that’s what I was impressed with, we never quit. There was no quit to these kids, even when things looked gloom, they just kept playing and hoping and that’s what I love about this senior group. They just kept firing.”
Wilkerson led off the home sixth with a double to left, as Stockton’s Jack Rickman struggled with the little hill out in left at Shoff Field.
Haun and Ansley worked a walk and were hit by pitch, respectively, to load the bases with no outs and Lamar pushed across three with a Ryan Davis RBI fielder’s choice and a Jaxon Hearod RBI groundout, as well as the second run from a Stockton throwing error.
Rickman worked a walk to lead off the seventh and Stockton added three runs on two hits and three Lamar errors.
Hubbard and Wyatt Downs played fundamentally sound, team baseball, sacrificing an out for a run to push Stockton’s lead back to six entering the bottom of the seventh.
Wilkerson reached on an error and stole second, but Hubbard and Painter struck out the side to advance Stockton into the state quarterfinals Thursday against either Licking or Forsyth and end Lamar’s season at 14-14.
“They hit some balls hard, but most of the balls that caused us problems, it wasn’t a whole hell of a lot we could do with it,” Lundine said. “I mean, it was in the gap, it was overhead, nothing was really tagged hard. We had more hard-hit balls than they did.
“You live on an island in baseball. Sometimes, that’s a fun island to be on. Sometimes, that’s not a fun island to be on. … It ain’t always paradise.”
Lamar seniors Tate Ansley, Tyler Ansley (who provided a defensive highlight Tuesday by throwing out a runner at home from left), Ethan Ball, Davis, Hearod, Hunter Lundine, and Willhite each played their final games Tuesday — Lamar won a district title in baseball for the first time since 2019 and the Tigers vied for their first sectional win since 2002.
“We were talking about that before I came over here,” Coach Lundine said. “My son was actually in Nevada up until his freshman year, so I was coaching his teams and whatnot. I asked them, ‘When’s the first time we ever met?’ They were like, ‘Oh, 14, 15.’ No, when’s the first time we met. Then, they started thinking. We played against each other on that little bitty field down there all those years ago.
“For this group, that’s very special to me. I’ve seen them when their extra small baseball pants were too dang big for them, and they’ve grown into great young men. It’s a battle … with them graduating and me retiring, it’s a bad deal but at the same time, you’ve got to be proud of where you came from and how far you’ve gone.
“Throw records out, throw everything else out, at the end of it, I always tell myself that on the last day there’s nothing that’s going to make me love them more and nothing that’s going to make me love them less. Just go out there and battle, and we’ll let the chips fall.”