VALMEYER — The dominant team in the Mon-Clair League's St. Clair Division, the St. Louis Spikes continued to set off fireworks of their own Saturday at the Valmeyer Mid-Summer Baseball Classic.
Veteran ace Jon Kars combined with two other pitchers to hold Valmeyer to six hits, while George Carnahan drove in four runs as the Spikes moved into the title game with a 7-3 win over the Lakers at Borsch Memorial Park.
Carnahan gave his team a 3-2 lead with a run-scoring single in the fourth inning
An inning later, following a costly error by Valmeyer which loaded the bases, Carnahan lined a three-run double, increasing St. Louis' lead to 6-2.
"We've done that a lot this season. Gotten big hits with runners in scoring position,'' Spikes manager Jay Kars said. "We played well today. We got good pitching from Jon (Kars) and then Trae Lee came in and gave us an inning after he threw seven innings on Friday.
"It was a good ballgame and we beat a good Valmeyer team. We're happy to be in the final.''
Winner of the Valmeyer Mid-Summer Classic in 2011, the Spikes will take on Cape Girardeau, (Mo.) in the title game at 3:30 p.m. today.
The Capahas earned a berth in the championship contest with an 8-5 win over Belleville in the first semifinal. Sunday will mark the first time in 38 years that two Missouri teams have played in the title game at Valmeyer.
Belleville will take on Valmeyer in the third-place game at 12:30 p.m.. Waterloo will play Millstadt in the consolation final at 10 a.m.
The host Lakers gave a large crowd an early thrill when slugger Ben Thoma took pitch from Kars and hit a first-inning solo home run, giving his team a 1-0 lead.
That advantage didn't last long.
Valmeyer starting pitcher Adam Bieber walked Mitch Thomas to lead off the second inning and three pitches later Justin Hennig put his team ahead with a two-run shot.
The Lakers tied the game at 2 in the third inning on a single by Adam Kunkel.
But Carnahan took over in the top of the fourth inning.
"Adam (Bieber) had trouble getting his curve ball over and got behind the hitters,'' Lakers manager Dennis Pieper said. "Then the error in the fifth inning really hurt.
"Defensively we've struggled at times and again today we had a chance to get out of the inning and we gave them an extra out. If we make the play it's a 3-2 game.''
Cape Girardeau 8, Belleville 5
A nightmarish first inning by Belleville starting pitcher Joey Grzywacz proved to be the difference as the Capahas scored six runs and went on to win.
Cape Girardeau catcher Alex Heuring hit a grand slam and Sean Bard added a solo homer in the first, an inning where the Capahas had six hits and sent 11 men to the plate as they took early command.
Grzywacz lasted only 2/3 of an inning before being removed in favor of reliever Ryan Warnecke.
"He (Grzywacz) got some pitches up and we were swinging the bats well. Even the outs we made that inning were pitches we hit hard,'' Capahas manager Jess Bolen said. "It's nice to get out to a big lead like that.''
Silenced for the first five innings by Cape Girardeau starter Dylan Lynn, the Rockies got back in the game with a five-run sixth, which saw them send 11 hitters to the plate.
Kevin Sangiolo and Chris Mathis drove in runs and when Mark Tampow lined a two-run single, Belleville had pulled within 6-5. Dan Munoz then walked to load the bases, but Lynn got out of the inning when Mike Breyman was retired on a line drive.
"I'm proud of my team. We battled back and gave ourselves a chance. With the exception of my second baseman and shortstop, everybody else on the field was 31 years old or older. It was great to see them compete like they did today,'' Belleville manager Marcus Barriger said. "Joey (Grzywacz) just didn't have it today. Every pitcher has days like that and nobody feels worse about it than he does. (*16*)
"He's a good pitcher. He'll be fine.''
The Capahas added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning off Warnecke.