PURDY - It took one hit and the pitching prowess of Jared Barchak for the third-seed Pierce City Eagles to advance in the first round of the Class 2, District 12 playoffs.
Senior fireballer Barchak struck out 11 McAuley batters and allowed two hits in the 3-0 shutout of sixth-seed McAuley.
Trenton Boykin's three-run shot over the fence in the first inning was all the scoring in the Monday night contest.
The Eagles' semifinal opponent on Tuesday was second-seed Southwest Trojans of Washburn.
Southwest's route to the semis would be repeated in the form of their offense. On Monday night, rapid-fire scoring in the first three innings by Southwest put seventh-seed Sarcoxie in a hole. Tyler Ferguson, son of Trojan Coach Kenny Ferguson, threw the two-hitter in the convincing 9-5 win.
Against Pierce City on Tuesday, Southwest's first inning outburst of nine runs wasn't so much rapid fire as it was a mechanized march of putting men on base, one by one, and bringing them home in the same singular fashion.
"Our bats went to sleep in the middle section of the season," said Coach Ferguson. "We strive for 'crooked numbers,' and we got that tonight in the first inning. Good things happen after that. Then you make sure you don't relax and give up crooked numbers."
A fine multisport athlete, Eagles' sophomore pitcher Wayne Joe Sooter took the pummeling from the mound. Seven hits fueled 14 Trojan batters, and the outcome was never in doubt.
Mitchell Gibson relieved Sooter in the second and gave up three more in the five-inning elimination loss, 12-2.
It was Gibson who provided the one positive flash for Pierce City, when he hit a home run in the second inning, making it 9-1.
Josh Hartin went the distance for Southwest, striking out nine and giving up five hits.
Despite a so-so record this year, Coach Ferguson made a compelling argument in the district seeding conference that his team deserved a top seating, and the solid pair of postseason wins thus far bear him out.
"We've finally been at full strength the last six games," said Ferguson.
Pierce City concludes its season with a record of 10-11.
to title game
Purdy's Riley Veith throttled fourth-seed College Heights in the other semifinal game on Tuesday night with nine strikeouts in a 3-2 win.
College Heights got on the board in the first inning via a walk, which was later driven home by a double. That run would be book-ended by another run in the seventh.
Purdy faced David Rice and managed just three hits against him. But two of those hits came in the first, courtesy of Landon Terry's leadoff double and Kevin Miller's single, which drove home Terry and Cody Hall.
The error that brought home Hall in the third was enough for the Eagles to sit on for the win.
Top-seeded Purdy advances to the district championship game against Southwest at 5 p.m. tonight in Purdy.