Kevin Sapp showed Maplewood Richmond Heights fans why he's been the team's go-to pitcher this year on Wednesday night at .
Holding a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, with runners on third and second and two outs, the senior pitcher fired a strike past Barat Academy junior Sam Byrne to seal the Blue Devils' 9-8 second-round Class 2 district win. They'll play for the district championship on Thursday night.
Sapp's standout performance included 10 strikeouts, plus three hits and three runs batted in as a batter.
"I just had winning on my mind the whole time," Sapp said. "I gave my team the opportunity to compete for a district championship tomorrow."
Like many other MRH games this season, the victory didn't come easy.
The Blue Devils, the tourney's No. 3 seed, held an 8-3 lead over second-seeded Barat heading into the fifth, but three MRH errors and four Eagles singles brought the game within one run. After three quick MRH outs in the sixth, the Eagles used their half of the inning to tie the game at eight apiece.
But MRH fought back in the top of the seventh. With a runner at second base, junior David Kunce knocked a hit over the second baseman's head to bring in the winning run for the Blue Devils. Kunce went 3-4 with a double, two singles and three RBI on the day.
It was a different Blue Devils team that showed up Wednesday than the one who played and earlier this season. In both games, the Blue Devils lost late.
"The fact that we've had those close ball games before was a big factor in us being able to win this game," Webb said. "A month ago? We don't win this ball game. Today we do because of what happened then and the progress we've made."
MRH also faced . But riding a that's produced 66 total runs, MRH fought early and often for the win.
"We were relentless offensively and that is the key," Webb said.
Junior Brad Swedlund went 3-4 with a double, two singles and three RBI; junior KaShon Hagens went 1-2 with a single, steal and two walks; senior Tony Biedenstein went 1-2 with a single, two walks and two steals.
"This is a very good victory for us, but we are still one step away from that preseason goal of a district championship," Webb said.
The Blue Devils will get their chance on Thursday when they take on host Brentwood—the tournament's No. 1 seed—at 5 p.m. MRH lost both games earlier this season.
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