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Tigers runners up in Northland Tournament

Tigers senior Conner Creason reared back and gave his 108th pitch everything he had on Thursday, April 20 at Liberty High School.

Excelsior Springs’ frontline starter got the strikeout he was looking for that sent a mob of teammates to the mound to celebrate and the Tigers to the championship game of the Northland Tournament.

“Yeah, I was pumped,” Creason said. “I was nervous, I knew two down, bases loaded, I had to either make him put it in play or strike him out. I couldn’t walk him because I would bring in a run. I got two strikes and (catcher Jensen Nave) signed for a fastball. I just reached back and threw it as hard as I could. Once I saw him miss it was the greatest feeling I’ve ever felt.”

It was Creason’s final batter no matter what, something he did not know at the time. A new rule designed to reduce the number of arm injuries to high school pitchers implemented this year caps juniors and seniors at 105 pitches unless the pitch occurs in the middle of an at bat.

The strikeout finished off Liberty with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning, giving the Tigers a 4-2 win. If the batter had extended the game the Tigers were short on pitching arms after three different pitchers went more than 50 pitches, requiring three days of rest, in the Tigers 20-17 loss to St. Pius X on Tuesday, April 18. Kaegan Jackson pitched a complete game in the 14-0 win against North Kansas City on Wednesday, April 19.

“We knew we had Conner, we had Marco Martin and Ryan Nedblake would have probably been third in line” Tigers coach Aaron Holst said. “I didn’t know we would play Thursday when I was trying to manage the St. Pius game on Tuesday. We went 50, 52, 53 pitches with three different guys which burned them for two days.”

Creason was dealing most of the game. The Tigers scored three runs in the top of the first inning and fed off the energy of the early lead the whole game. Creason allowed a leadoff triple in the first inning, but limited the damage to just one run. He did not give up another hit until the fifth inning and had just 58 pitches under his belt when he started the sixth inning.

A play at the plate and a key double play ball kept the Tigers lead in at three after both teams added a run in the sixth inning.

“I’m just thrilled at how gritty Conner was today,” Tigers coach Aaron Holst said. “I think he had some nerves to start the game. The first guy hits a bomb triple and he was kind of sketchy with his control. But, once he settled in, he had a real nice groove going for about five innings.”

In the seventh inning, Liberty loaded the bases with one out. A flyout to shallow left field held the bases loaded before the pivotal strikeout. With each passing out the celebration from the Tigers dugout grew and grew until the celebratory mob.  Read the rest of this story in the Tuesday, April 25 issue of the Standard


-Bryce Mereness

By admin •

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