LA CENTER - Smart baserunning Tuesday sent Murray to the First Region All A championship.
The Tigers beat Ballard Memorial 4-3 in the First Region All A semifinals after scoring single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. They can credit Zack Grogan and Sam Palmer for that.
Grogan produced a one-out infield single in the fifth but advanced to second when he noticed the middle infielders weren't covering the base and the Bombers pitcher had turned his back.
"He knows to always play the game aggressively," Tigers coach Mitch Grogan said. "I love aggressive baseball. That's what I grew up enjoying, the mid-'80s of the Cardinals. I just love taking extra bases and running and putting pressure on the defense."
Zack Grogan scored on an RBI single by Logan Smart to even the score at 3.
The Tigers (4-6) took the lead for good after third baseman Ryan Alderson led off the sixth with a walk and was replaced with pinch runner Sam Palmer. Palmer advanced to second on a passed ball and later scored on another passed ball for the 4-3 margin.
"We've talked to our bench guys about you got to be ready," Mitch Grogan said. "He ran the bases very well, his leads and getting back aggressively, and was giving himself the opportunity to do something like that."
Zack Grogan earned the win with a complete-game effort, allowing six hits.
After beating the third-seeded Bombers (8-2), the Tigers play St. Mary for the First Region All A championship at 6 p.m. today.
Shaw pitches Vikings to First Region finals
St. Mary starting pitcher Austin Shaw did exactly what his coach asked him to do on Tuesday.
His obedience paid off with a complete-game shutout as the Vikings beat Mayfield 8-0 in the other semifinal. He needed just 72 pitches over seven innings and struck out six against zero walks.
"I saw a pitcher who did exactly what I wanted him to do - to stay in the white of the plate and not hit the black," Vikings coach Matt Smith said. "He did a great job doing exactly what I wanted him to do. When your pitcher does that and lets his defense play, good end result."
The No. 1 Vikings (7-1) took a 1-0 first-inning lead on an RBI double by Davis Sims. They broke through for six runs, led by Ross Whittaker's three-run double, in the third inning.
The early 7-0 lead helped settle down Shaw, who improved to 3-0 and allowed just two hits to the fourth-seeded Cardinals (2-4).
"It allows you to relax and sit back and throw strikes," he said, "and lets you know your defense has got you and you have support from your offense."
Whittaker's fifth-inning RBI single produced the final margin.
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Ballard Memorial 020 010 0 3 6 1
Murray 110 011 x 4 6 2
Williams, Newton (6) and Foster; Grogan and Elder. WP â “ Grogan. LP â “ Newton. 2B: BM-Chandler, Lawrence 2, Worley; M-Grogan. 3B: None. HR: None. Multiple hit: BM-Lawrence 2-4, Worley 1-2 (RBI); M-Grogan 1-3, Smart 2-3 (RBI).
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Mayfield 000 000 0 0 2 3
St. Mary 106 010 x 8 6 1
Hall, unidentified pitcher (5) and D. Mills; Shaw and Johnston. WP â “ Shaw (3-0); LP â “ Hall. 2B: M-S. Mills; StM-Sims, Whittaker. 3B: None. HR: None. Multiple hit: StM-Sims 2-2 (RBI), Whittaker 2-3 (4 RBIs).
Call Daniel Paulling, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8662, or follow on Twitter @DanielPaulling.