MOKANE - This had to ease some of the sting for the South Callaway Bulldogs.
Junior center fielder Cory Hanger hit a pair of home runs to fuel a 13-hit attack Wednesday night as South Callaway claimed a share of the Show-Me Conference championship with a 12-4 victory over Eugene.
The Bulldogs - completing the season with an 18-6 record - ended up in a tie with Fatima for the SMC title, both finishing with 5-1 conference marks. South Callaway also stopped a conference baseball championship drought that dated back to 1994.
The Bulldogs were able to finish the season on a promising note after being edged by Blair Oaks 2-1 in the Class 3, District 13 semifinals Monday night in Eugene. Defending state champion Fatima topped Blair Oaks for the District 13 title 11-8 on Wednesday night.
"Like I told the players after the Blair Oaks game, there are 98 teams in your class and only two get to go out with wins - in the first-place game and third-place game," South Callaway head coach Heath Lepper said. "With us having to make this game up (against Eugene), we became the third team.
"It's nice to go out with a win, especially for the conference title. With the caliber of teams (in the SMC), it's nice to get a piece of this one."
Hanger launched a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning and supplied a solo shot in the sixth, going 2-for-3 with three runs scored. Senior Gordon Arthaud - who started on the mound and then moved to right field - was 2-for-3 with three runs batted in and a run scored.
Junior left fielder Mason Shoemaker also finished 2-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored, while junior first baseman Trevor Miller went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and scored two times. Junior shortstop Dax Helsel was 2-for-3 and scored a run.
The Bulldogs tallied single runs in the second and third, then erupted for three apiece in the fourth and fifth, and turned the game into a rout with four in the sixth. Eugene scored three times in the third and once in the sixth.
"We got off to a slow start, but as the game went on, the guys got more comfortable at the plate and our bats woke up," Lepper said.
Junior Troy Hentges - throwing the final four innings in relief of Arthaud - was credited with the victory. Hentges gave up an earned run on just two hits, struck out three and walked two. Arthaud allowed three runs - two earned - on three hits in three innings, issued four walks and had two strikeouts.