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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Babe Ruth tourney brings drama to Monett's North Park

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Southwest Ozarks All-Stars prepared to take on Cassville on Friday night, the home team's second outing at the Babe Ruth tournament for 13-year-old boys held Thursday through Sunday at Monett's North Park. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
The Babe Ruth boys state baseball tournament for 13 year olds concluded on Sunday with the Mineral Area Baseball All-Stars (MABA) taking home the title. The conclusion came after a contest of high drama, after the local teams ended participation on Saturday.

The Southwest Ozarks All-Stars, with players from Monett, Aurora and Marionville, faced off with the Cassville All-Stars on Friday night. As the tournament's home team, the Southwest squad took control for a 7-1 win.

"It was night and day from Thursday's game," an 11-0 loss for the Monett team, said Charlie Steward, one of the Southwest Ozarks coaches. "We played error-free baseball. Our pitcher (Kendall Phillips) went all seven innings. It was a great game."

The win advanced the home team to its third tourney game, taking on Boonville in the loser's bracket. Boonville had lost on Friday morning against Camdenton, which had a first-round bye. Boonville and Camdenton were tied at 3-3 going into the third inning when Camdenton erupted for eight runs on six hits, carrying the game 11-4.

Boonville faced off against the Southwest Ozarks All-Stars on Saturday afternoon. Strong pitching from both sides kept the game scoreless into the sixth inning. Boonville was unable to even get any men on base, while the Monett team loaded the bases in the fifth inning only to have the last batter strike out. In the bottom of the sixth Boonville rallied for two runs and carried the day 2-0.

In the winner's bracket on Friday, Mineral Area (MABA), which had beaten Cassville 15-3 on Thursday, went up against Southeast Missouri South (SEMO South), which had beaten the Monett team. MABA scored two runs in the first inning, one in the third, four in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth. SEMO South only scored one run each in the first and third innings, losing 10-2.

MABA then advanced to the semi-final game on Saturday afternoon against Camdenton. In the first inning, Camdenton loaded the bases but failed to score. MABA then scored four runs but also ended the inning with three runners stranded. Camdenton came right back with two runs in the second inning, but MABA answered with five runs on two triples, a double and a single. MABA stormed to a 19-9 win in five innings to advance to the finals.

The question then was which team would emerge from the loser's bracket to take on MABA. SEMO South played Sikeston practically to a standstill, going into the last inning with a 9-9 tie. Sikeston scored two runs. SEMO South got men on first and second and scored one while the other was tagged out in a rundown. Sikeston won 11-10.

Sikeston then played Boonville for the chance to play Camdenton and a shot at the title game. Both teams seemed evenly matched. Boonville scored two runs in the first inning and Sikeston's first batter answered with a triple to score quickly. Boonville pulled to a 5-3 lead by the end of the third inning and stayed ahead 7-5 going into the last inning. Both teams sent a pair of batters over the plate in the seventh, ending the game in Boonville's favor 9-7.

That set up the last game in the loser's bracket against Boonville and Camdenton. Boonville's pitcher was shelled in the first inning, giving up four runs. Boonville took an inning to warm up before both teams pounded each other, sending the game into extra innings tied 8-8. After 11 innings, Camdenton finally slugged out an 11-10 victory.

The win was short lived, however. Camdenton got a brief break and had to take on MABA for a second time in the championship game. MABA had an entire day's rest and faced Camdenton's pitchers who showed fatigue from the Boonville marathon.

By the top of the fourth inning MABA was ahead 10-1. The game was stopped after five innings with MABA claiming a 12-1 victory and the tourney title.

The loss of the District 7 team from the tournament had forced tournament organizers to juggle the schedule. The cancellation also cost the tournament around $2,000 in income.

Steward, who was tournament co-chairman with Jeff Phillips, said organizers had to decide which team would get the first round bye with an uneven number of teams participating. Boonville traveled four hours to the tourney while SEMO South and Sikeston drove over five hours. Outside of the local teams, the Camdenton team was the only one close enough to drive home each night and thus got the first round break.

"Camdenton made it to the championship game. They deserved to be there," Steward said.

"It was a fantastic tournament. We had so many great comments," Steward added.

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