CARROLLTON, Mo. — On Wednesday, May 23, the Class 3, District 15 champion Carrollton High School Trojans baseball team played host to the District 14 champion Holden High School Eagles in the Class 3 quarterfinals, with the winner advancing on to the semifinal round in O’Fallon. Despite having plenty of opportunities to cash in on runners in scoring position, the Trojans couldn’t get enough timely hits to overcome Holden’s big third inning, ultimately falling 4-1.
As standard procedure in first- and second-round Missouri State High School Athletic Association (MSHSAA) state baseball tournaments, a coin flip was used to determine which team was officially considered the home team. Carrollton lost the toss, sending them to the plate first.
Despite senior Chase Wheeler leading the game off with a walk, he would only advance due to a wild pitch, as the next three Trojan batters would be struck out.
This was a common occurrence for starting pitcher Peyton Seiz, Holden’s dynamic senior lefty. He absolutely devastated the Trojans, striking out the side three times en route to a staggering 13 strikeout performance. Seiz went 6 1/3 inning, allowing only four hits and three free passes (two walks, one hit batsman). He relied heavily on a plus-velocity fastball through the first three innings before settling in with his offspeed stuff the second time through the Carrollton order.
A second inning leadoff double by Eagle senior Nathan Hedglin ultimately resulted in him coming around to score, putting the Eagles ahead 1-0 early.
In the third inning, Seiz was able to help his own cause, jacking a three-run homer to put Holden up 4-0.
Between the second and sixth innings, Carrollton left three runners on third base. Those woes left them heading into the seventh (and final) inning still down 4-0 despite a marvelous relief appearance from senior AJ Goetting. Although he allowed a few balls to get squared up, his success came from his ability to manufacture weak contact. Additionally, the hard-hit shots were often turned into solid defensive plays, including a couple of highlight-reel plays from Carrollton’s middle infield.
Carrollton finally capitalized on base runners in the seventh inning, when a leadoff basehit from junior Lance Olvera was followed with a hit batter (senior Ethan Staton) and a wild pitch, moving them up to second and third base, respectively.
A groundout to the right side by freshman Gage Fitzpatrick drove Olvera in, bringing the score to 4-1. Having lost the shutout, Seiz was pulled from the game for a reliever. A following fly ball to right field with one out was nearly enough to drive Staton in, but the reward (a 4-2 score with bases empty) wasn’t deemed justification enough to attempt sending him.
With two outs and the tying run on-deck, a final, game-ending strikeout was recorded – albeit a highly controversial one, as senior Chase Wheeler was ruled to have attempted to swing with two strikes, though he was visibly frustrated that the umpires didn’t rule his motions as an attempt to evade the pitch, which missed the zone high and well inside.
Two different Trojans struck out three times, while two others struck out twice each. Only Fitzpatrick and junior Andrew Hughes – hitting from the eighth-and nine-hole, respectively – managed to avoid striking out at least one time.
One Eagle struck out three times, while three struck out twice.
Holden advances to 23-4 with the victory. They will take on the District 2 champions, Malden High School (24-5), on Tuesday, May 29, at CarShield Field, in O’Fallon.
With the loss, Carrollton ended their season at 21-5.