It was an outstanding weekend of baseball at Sky Bacon Stadium in Ozark, Mo., as the Festus Tigers squad claimed their first state baseball title in school history while Francis Howell fell just short of their goal of winning another crown. Fort Zumwalt South also made some noise in claiming a third-place finish over the weekend.

Festus used a pair of outstanding pitching performances to earn their first state crown in Class 5 as the Tigers defeated Borgia 8-1 in the state title game Saturday afternoon. Festus moved on to the title game after beating Fort Zumwalt South 2-0 in the semifinals while Borgia defeated Webb City 4-0 in their semifinal.

The Tigers scored the only two runs of the game against Fort Zumwalt South in the top of the third inning as took advantage of a pair of hits in the frame that included a double by Jeremiah Cunningham and an RBI fielder’s choice by Tyler Bizzle to grab the 2-0 lead. That is all they would need as Ian Brown tossed a complete game with eight strikeouts on the day to earn the win and push Festus to the title game. 

Borgia broke open a 1-0 game with three runs in the bottom of the sixth frame to gain the win over Webb City. After Reagan Kandlbinder laced an RBI single in the third inning to give the Knights an early 1-0 lead before the Borgia offense erupted for three runs in the home half of the sixth inning as Jack Nobe drew a bases-loaded walk while Tanner McPherson ripped a two-run single up the middle to put the Knights ahead 4-0. The Cardinals placed a pair of runners on in the top of the seventh but could not score as Nobe forced a flyout and a strikeout to earn the shutout victory. McPherson finished the day with three hits while Nobe tossed a two-hitter with five strikeouts to advance to the title game.


Festus Baseball with Championship Awards 2023


In the Class 5 championship game, Festus grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first before Borgia evened the contest with a run in the second to tie the game at 1-1. The Tigers’ offense then took control of the game with seven runs over the final four innings to gain the state title as they scattered 16 hits on the day. Brady Nolen was a perfect 4-for-4 with three runs batted in to pace the Festus efforts at the plate while Bizzle added three hits and an RBI to help the Tigers finish the year with a 27-8 record. 

In the third-place contest, Fort Zumwalt South needed to work extra innings to defeat Webb City 4-3 in 11 innings. After the game ended regulation tied at 2-2, Webb City scored a run in the top of the 11th to take a 3-2 lead before the Bulldogs scored the winning runs after loading the bases by plating two runs on a fielding error to gain the third-place trophy. Carter Cox led the Bulldogs with a pair of hits in the game with a run scored while Gavin Reidel earned his fifth win on the year with three innings pitched and striking out a pair of Cardinal batters. The Bulldogs finished the year with a record of 28-7-1.

Howell returned to the Class 6 semifinals and needed to hold on for a 9-8 victory over Jackson as the Indians made the game interesting in the final frame. The Indians took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first before the Vikings tied the game in the home half of the second by taking advantage of two hits and an error to even the game at 2-2. The big hit in the inning was a Tytus Cissell double down the line to drive in a run to even things up. Howell then scored five runs in the fourth frame as Brett Norfleet had the big hit in the inning with a two-run single down the left-field line to help Howell take a 7-2 lead. Howell added two more runs in the sixth as Leo Humbert drove in a run with a double into the gap in left-center while Jackson Vaughn hit a sacrifice fly to score another run to give the Vikings a 9-2 advantage. The Indians made the game interesting in the top of the seventh as they scored six runs in the frame before Evan Piwowarski entered the game and slammed the door in the uprising by forcing a pair of flyouts to help the Vikings advance to the title game. Cissell finished the game with three hits and a run batted in while Norfleet added two runs batted in for Howell in the win.

In the Class 6 title contest, Liberty North raced out to a 6-0 lead as they scored two runs in each of the first three innings before the Vikings cut the advantage with a run off a Cissell RBI single in the bottom of the third to make the score 6-1. The Eagles added two runs in the top of the fifth and a run in the seventh to gain a 9-1 lead before the Vikings attempted a late-inning rally as Brady Wilson drove in a run with a double to right field while Aden Johnson pushed across a run with a ground out to the pitcher, but that is all that the Vikings could muster in the frame as the Eagles forced a pop out and a strikeout to end the game and earn their second consecutive state title. Howell finished the season with an outstanding 31-11 record.

Jim Powers

Jim Powers

Jim Powers has been covering prep sports in the St. Louis area for 15+ years and a part of the Missouri State High School Activities Association Championship Broadcasts for the past 11 years. Powers is also a part of the Fox 2 Verlo Mattress Prep Zone Friday nights at 10:10 during the football and basketball seasons. If you have a prep sports story, please contact Jim at Follow Jim at @hssportscaravan