AURORA -- Delayed by weather-related conditions for three days, the Class 3, District 11 playoffs got underway Tuesday afternoon when the second-seed Monett Cubs defeated seventh-seed host Aurora, 11-3.
The game was tight into the fifth inning with Aurora sitting on a precarious 3-2 lead.
Monett loaded the bases in the first but didn't score. The Cubs went on to strand a total of seven runners on base within the first three innings yet only two runs to show for the offensive wherewithal.
Meanwhile, junior Marcus McCaffrey's man o' war projection from the mound kept Aurora in check by coaxing his usual mix of grounder and pop-up outs. Giving up a smattering of walks and four hits doesn't faze McCaffrey. The wheelhouse just churns out more fastballs.
In his case, the wheelhouse is in need of some mending. McCaffrey has torn tissue in his throwing shoulder that will require surgery come summer, but for now it's baseball season and the infrequent soreness isn't going to sideline the fun.
"The pain comes and goes," McCaffey said.
Discouragement is a foreign notion to this young man. Runners are no big deal if the results don't round third base very often. Besides, McCaffrey is happy to answer any success against him with a capable bat of his own.
And that he did.
Like a mudslide after days of rain, it was a matter of time before the Cubs broke loose with runs. It came in the fifth inning when Jake Smith brought his reliable metal club to the plate and smacked a Texas Leaguer. Andy Hagedorn's walk followed. Then Colten Phillips bunted. Bases loaded.
Jesse Bremer complemented Hagedorn's patience with another walk, and Aurora had gifted a run to Monett. Tie at 3-3.
McCaffrey put his team ahead for good with a double, scoring two to make it 5-3. Three more Cubs would come to the plate before Aurora managed an out. Eight runs would tally before the inning was over.
"We hadn't played a lot of baseball lately, so I wasn't surprised it took us a while to get going," said Monett Coach Michael Calhoun.
Monett plays the sixth-seed Forsyth Panthers in the district semifinals on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The Panthers defeated Springfield Catholic 15-6 to advance.
On the other side of the bracket, Cassville, the top seed, crushed Hollister 15-0 and will meet fourth-seed Bolivar, who defeated Reeds Spring 6-2. Both semifinal games will be played at Aurora tonight (Wednesday).