Calling Fort Zumwalt North junior Joey Siegler a No. 3 starting pitcher would not do him justice, at least not in the first round of the Class 4 District 9 Baseball Tournament at Troy.
By throwing a complete-game shutout against Warrenton, Siegler put the Panthers in prime position to make a run at the tournament championship. He allowed just two hits and two walks, along with seven strikeouts, in Monday’s 4-0 win. The Panthers are the No. 2 seed and the Warriors No. 7.
Most importantly, Siegler’s gem allowed Jordan Hankins and Wade Rothermich, the Panthers’ No. 1 and 2 hurlers, to stay rested for the road ahead.
"I really don’t think about it as being No. 1, 2 or 3," said Siegler, who was limited to less than 23 innings pitched this season due to injury. "I just come out and try to be the best pitcher out there. I don’t worry about who’s batting or what team we’re playing. Just go out there and pitch."
Siegler frequently worked ahead in counts and was backed by an error-free defense, which turned nine ground-ball outs.
"Defensively that’s as good as you can get," Zumwalt North coach Dan Springman said. "(Siegler) has been our No. 3 all year and that’s the kind of performance we expect from him."
The Panthers gave Siegler an early lead with two runs in the first inning and two more in the second. Hankins opened the scoring by driving in Rothermich on an RBI single, and Daniel Kueckelhan scored Hankins from second base on a perfectly executed hit-and-run.
A Rothermich RBI single and a wild pitch scored the final two Zumwalt North runs off Warrenton starter Alan Burbach, who after allowing those four runs retired 11 of the next 12 batters he faced.
"It’s been over a week since he last pitched last and the rainy days he hasn’t had a lot of mound time," Warrenton coach Eric Burle said about Burbach. "He wasn’t as sharp as he needed to be those first few innings when they tagged him for some runs right off the bat. He was missing his spots but settled down after that and did his job and gave us an opportunity (to win). We just didn’t score him some runs."
Warrenton’s best chance to sack Siegler came in the fourth, when the Warriors had runners on first and second with one out. But a fly-ball out to right field and a strikeout got the Panthers out of the jam.
"We were a little reluctant and too defensive at the plate," Burle said. "(Siegler) was attacking the strike zone aggressively and threw his breaking pitches for strikes really well. That kind of threw us off, especially when we were looking for the first-pitch fastball."
The win put the Panthers in the district semifinals against the winner between Hannibal and Holt. Zumwalt North last won a district title way back in 1986, when it was still known as Fort Zumwalt High School. The district final game is slated to be played Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Troy.
Zumwalt North improved its record to 22-3 while Warrenton ended its season at 7-15.
St. Dominic 3, Troy 1 (8 innings)
Fifth-seeded St. Dominic (10-15) opened play of the Class 4 District 9 Tournament with a 3-1 victory over tourney host and No. 3 Troy (13-12), which entered Monday having won seven of its last eight games.
Senior Charles Fallert went the distance on the mound for St. Dominic, pitching all eight innings and allowing one run on four hits with seven strikeouts.
Tied 1-1 in the top of the eighth inning, Dallas Friedly drove in the go-ahead run on a base hit to left field, and fellow senior Clark Gould later squeezed home a run of insurance.
"We're looking forward to (playing Timberland on Tuesday)," St. Dominic coach Brian Baum said. "They're the No. 1 seed for a reason so we'll see what happens."
Holt 9, Hannibal 6
The Holt baseball team spotted Hannibal a four-run lead in the first inning of Monday’s first-round game of the Class 4 District 9 Tournament but mounted a rally to win 9-6 and advance to play Zumwalt North on Tuesday.
“When they put a four-spot on us, with (Zach Nichols) on the rubber, I thought we were in trouble,” Holt coach Joel Adam said.
But after a rough first inning starting pitcher Nolan Fisher settled in while Holt batters pecked away at Nichols and claimed the lead in the fourth inning. Fisher, Justin Hellman and Conner Hales all had in the inning, and Trey Pirkle drove in two more runs off Nichols for the inning’s big blow.
Fisher tossed six innings for the win while Robbie Douthit pitched a four-out save.
“We overcame a lot of mistakes,” Adam said. “You’ve got to be able to do that in games like these.”
Holt lefty Kyle Warrington will duel Zumwalt North senior Jordan Hankins in Tuesday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal.