Worth the trip

Russellville to Canton --- 150 miles.

Westphalia to Maryville --- 268 miles.

One way.

But with a trip to the Final Four on the line, this was like walking across the street.

It was worth it, win or lose.

For the Russellville Indians (16-8), unfortunately, it was the latter --- a tough 8-7 loss to the Canton Tigers (14-5) in eight innings Wednesday in the Class 2 quarterfinals in Canton.

More on the Indians to come.

The Fatima Comets, however, continued the school's amazing sports run with a 7-2 win over the Maryville Spoofhounds in the Class 3 quarterfinals in Maryville.

This guarantees Fatima's fourth top-four finish this school year, followed by boys basketball (fourth), boys cross country (third) and volleyball (first).

To be sure, it's a great time to be a Comet.

"It's just amazing," Comets coach Scott Kilgore said. "We have an outstanding senior class. I'm not attributing it all to the senior class, because we just have a great group, a great chemistry, of athletes at Fatima right now.

"And we're getting it done."

For the baseball Comets, they're getting it done on the mound. In the last three games --- starting with the district championship game against Blair Oaks --- Fatima starters have thrown two shutouts, three complete games and have allowed just one earned run.

The first two were shutouts by senior Patrick Schnieders; on Wednesday, it was a five-hitter by senior Seth Lehman, who walked one and struck out five.

"He's such a gamer," Kilgore said of Lehman. "It was a great performance."

But Lehman was not a one-man show, as he had plenty of help --- the Comets turned no less than four double plays.

"That's amazing, you can't ask for anything better than that," Kilgore said. "We're getting it done with the bat, we getting it done on the hill and we're making the defensive plays to kill the rallies."

In the Fatima first, the Comets (21-5) took a 2-0 lead on an RBI single by Patrick Schnieders and a double-steal, which resulted in Bax crossing the plate.

"That was huge; that was something we've tried to do all year, jump out on teams," Kilgore said. "That set the tone for the game."

The cushion got much more comfortable in the third, as the Comets scored three runs with two out.

Reid Kesel started the frame with a lead-off triple, but was still there after back-to-back pop-outs. But Ryan Mebruer delivered a key run-scoring single, before he scored on a double by Logan Vogel. Vogel then scored on a single by Sam Hager and it was 5-0.

"Ryan's hit was so big," Kilgore said. "He hit a rocket and to get it done with two out, that made it even bigger."

The Spoofhounds (6-11) scored an unearned run in the fourth to make it 5-1, before the Comets brushed that aside --- plus one.

Brady Weber and Bax both singled to open the inning, Weber later scored on a sacrifice fly by Schnieders, and Bax strolled home on an RBI double by Mebruer to make it 7-1.

The Spoofhounds scored a forget-me-not run in the sixth to finish the scoring, as Fatima punched its first ticket to the Final Four since the Joe Crede-led Comets in 1996.

Hager, a sophomore, banged out three hits for the Comets, while Bax and Mebruer had two hits apiece. Fatima will face Hallsville (14-11) in the semifinals at 7 p.m. next Wednesday at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O'Fallon.

"I'm just so proud of these boys," Kilgore said. "They continue to fight and get it done when they need to.

"I just hope they can keep this train rolling."


The Indians (16-8) knocked the Tigers (14-5) into an early hole, thanks to a 3-run homer by Chandler Wolf in the second inning.

Russellville 5, Canton 3.

But the Tigers fired back to take a carry a 7-5 lead going into the sixth, before a two-run base hit by Clayton Harrison tied it, and eventually pushed the game to extra innings.

Russellville 7, Canton 7. Bonus baseball.

"Our kids are tough, I knew they were going to battle back," Indians coach Lucas Branson said. "They gave it everything they had."

The Tigers pushed across a run in the bottom of the eighth , however, to end the game --- and end the season for the Indians.

"It hurts right now and it's going to hurt for a while, obviously, being in such a close game with a chance to get to the Final Four," Branson said.

Chase Smith had two hits for the Indians, who only had two seniors on the roster, Wolf and Harrison.

"We have a lot of depth in our program," Branson said. "Obviously, the season at hand is your main focus, but we're always looking at what the younger kids can give us.

"I told our kids they have a lot to be proud of. Winning the district tournament, that's something they'll always remember. This is tough right now, but when they look back on this season and have time to reflect, they'll have a lot of good memories."