By Paul Hines
COBDEN — Mark Knepler knocked a grand slam off the right-field scoreboard to help Webber seize an 8-4 sectional final win over Shawnee on Saturday.
“This is amazing,” Knepler said. “It's just nice to have our seniors just going and going and going.”
Webber starting pitcher Jordan Wheeler held Shawnee scoreless into the seventh inning before being lifted for a relief pitcher after a pair of walks.
“I slowed myself down. I took deep breathes and just tried to hit my spots,” Wheeler said. “I was nervous the whole game, and I just had to stay headstrong and just block everything out.”
All of Shawnee's scores came in the final frame. The late offense was aided by five walks from three Webber pitchers in the inning.
Knepler kickstarted the Trojans' offense in the bottom of the second. With the bases jammed, he rocked a pitch from Shawnee starter Nick Crane off the right-field scoreboard. It was his first career home run. Knepler finished the two-game sectional with four hits and a walk. The home run gave Webber a 4-0 cushion.
The Webber rally started with a leadoff single from Lane Moser. Jordan Wheeler walked, and the bases loaded after a one-out walk to Michael Gartin.
The Trojans added a run in the fifth to go ahead 5-0 when Zane Austin beat out an infield single. The hustle play allowed pinch runner Dylan Burrell to score.
Webber continued to pile up runs in the sixth. Gage Raudenbush knocked an RBI single to centerfield. Moser followed with a deep double with the bases loaded that plated a pair of runs. The scores gave Webber an 8-0 edge going into the seventh.
“With the pressure jacked up, you're not confident at all until you get that last out,” Webber coach Sam Root said. “Because anything can happen.”
Shawnee had just one hit in the final inning sandwiched around the five walks. The lone hit was a double from Aiden McMahan and drove in two runs.