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Fort Zumwalt South punches ticket to final four with shutout win over Parkway Central

Fort Zumwalt South punches ticket to final four with shutout win over Parkway Central

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CHESTERFIELD — The Fort Zumwalt South defense was tested time and again on Saturday afternoon.

Each test pushed the defense to the brink, but senior infielder Jacob Steele and his teammates had extra motivation to make sure they didn't fail.

"When they got someone on, the only thing holding us back from the final four was that base runner," Steele said.

The Fort Zumwalt South defense turned in an errorless performance on the way to a 5-0 victory over Parkway Central in a Class 5 quarterfinal game.

"This is something I've been wanting to do since my freshman year and now we're doing it," Fort Zumwalt South senior Andrew Castelli said. 

South (23-9) will take on Willard (25-10) at 1:30 p.m. on Friday in a semifinal game at U.S. Ballpark in Ozark. 

This is the first semifinal appearance for the Bulldogs since they won the Class 4 state championship in 2009. 

"It's fantastic," Fort Zumwalt South coach Bill Friedel said. "That tough schedule really helped us prepare for these playoff games."

Parkway Central (15-13) threatened in the first five innings, putting multiple runners on base.

But each time, the Bulldogs' defense rose to the challenge.

"They were insane," Castelli said. "We always said that this is the best defensive team to come through South and it's showing now."

Having that sterling defense vacuuming up any ground ball helped Castelli, who threw five shutout innings. He gave up three hits, struck out three and walked five.

"They handled every defensive situation perfectly," Friedel said. "Andrew gutted through it. It wasn't the smoothest, but a shutout is a shutout."

The Colts had lived on timely hitting throughout the postseason, but came up empty against Castelli and  freshman reliever Carter Cox.

"We put runners on, but just didn't get the hit when we needed it," Parkway Central coach Scott Davis said. "Tip your cap to Zumwalt South, that's a nice squad."

Cox pitched two hitless innings to close out the game.

Steele was able to get the scoring started for the Bulldogs with a two-out double in the first.

Senior Peyton Blair went 2-for-3 at the plate and scored two times.

Davis was pleased with the seniors that led the Colts back to the quarterfinal round for the first time since 2016.

"They're the reason we got back here," Davis said. "We have a lot of guys coming back and the seniors this year set the tone for what the expectations are."

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