Sporting WCA

Baseball District Game 1 Vs. Clayton

The Westminster baseball squad hopes to continue its winning ways right on into high school postseason play.

Westminster went 20-9 on the season to earn the number one seed, but has yet to play the team that doomed them in the first round last year. That team, the Clayton Greyhounds, look to carry their momentum from a decisive victory over John Burroughs capped by a grand slam and a pitching gem from their best player Max Hunter. Hunter started in Clayton’s victory against Westminster last year. Hunter had words after his team’s latest triumph, saying, “We feel pretty good. We are just gonna play our best game. I don’t think I’ll pitch but I’m sure my teammates will pitch just fine. Today’s game was just the first stage.”

That same first stage proved to be too much of a hurdle for the Wildcats last year, so the Cats are looking for redemption. “After last year, we have a good energy, a good drive. We are gonna put up a good fight,” said shortstop Benjamin Sems. Third baseman Kevin Graham agreed, saying, “We are kind of trying to avenge last year’s loss.”

Neither side would confirm who their starter will be. Clayton’s head coach went so far as to say he had “about three different candidates, and we are just gonna figure it out between then and now.” Westminster has two starters with an ERA under 3.00 with Ben Sems (2.46) and Logan McCall (2.81), while Clayton can counter with Bryant Thompson (3.08) or Billy Heil (4.16) since Max Hunter (2.70) pitched them past John Burroughs on Saturday.

Westminster is the number two ranked small school in the Missouri area, per STLToday. Their opponents, meanwhile, are not ranked and finished the regular season 8-15 with a negative run differential. After a tough loss on senior day this past Friday catcher Jake Matheny shared his thoughts on being the heavy favorite. “We have a really good team and we are gonna come out and play really hard.” Friend and teammate Benjamin Sems concurred, saying, “We have a good pitcher coming on (I’m not sure who will start), but we are gonna put up a good fight. Honestly we just want to go out there and play our game.”

Clayton’s head coach also recognized being the underdog, stating, “It’s obviously a daunting challenge. We view it as a fun challenge. The focus is on what we can do. Any time you go against a team like Westminster hopefully your work starts to pay off for you. We are gonna play every pitch and work as hard as we can. Hopefully it goes our way.”

“We know that it doesn’t really matter who you are pitching to as top or bottom they are all really good hitters. They are just a really great team. I mean take your pick, they are all really good hitters.” As a whole, the Wildcat starting lineup is slashing .368/.449/.532, with senior Jake Matheny leading the team by hitting .442/.496/.875 in addition to leading the state in home runs.

Clayton has two big-time hitters in their lineup, and their best pitcher is also their best hitter (Max Hunter). Hunter is seventh in the state in batting average and is slashing .514/.538/.716. Their other stud hitter is Billy Heil, who is slashing .436/.530/.600.

In the end, this matchup should come down to Clayton’s ability or inability to stop the incredible Wildcat offense. Below is coverage from Twitter, which will be updated throughout Monday with a lineup and highlights.

Game 1 infographic.