The South Callaway Bulldogs strive to be the more aggressive team on the baseball diamond each game.
"We talk about that all year, all things being equal the most aggressive team usually wins," South Callaway coach Heath Lepper said.
That was the case Thursday at Vivion Field as the Bulldogs defeated the Jefferson City Jays 4-1 to close out the regular season on a five-game winning streak.
On the other side, the defeat ended a three-game winning streak for the Jays, who stuck out looking four times in the first two innings against South Callaway right-hander Peyton Leeper.
"I think they were just too picky, looking for a perfect pitch," Jays coach Kyle Lasley said. " We took too many fastballs and we've just got to be a little bit more aggressive."
South Callaway, the No. 5 ranked team in Class 3, led from the start thanks to Tyklen Salmons' line-drive single to left field to drive in Leeper, who led off the game by drilling a liner off the mound for an infield hit.
The aggressiveness came into play in the fourth inning when courtesy runner Adam Albaugh went from first base to third base on a hit-and-run single by Caleb Hall, who also stole second base.
Devin Borghardt followed by sneaking a grounder past a diving third baseman for a two-RBI double and a 3-0 lead.
Borghardt later tried to add to the lead by taking off for home on a grounder to second base, but was called out while attempting to slide around the tag.
The margin reached four anyway in the next inning when Salmons came home on a double steal.
Salmons led off the inning by sending a fly ball over the left fielder for a double.
"We just weren't ourselves," Lasley said. "We were very sloppy in all parts of the game."
The Jays got on the scoreboard in the sixth after back-to-back walks to Tucker Schwartz and Dawson Schulte and a dropped fly ball in center field that allowed Joe Hoerchler to reach base and Schwartz to score.
A groundout left a runner at third base and Drake Davidson closed it out in the seventh, getting the Jays to fly out twice and ground out to the mound while walking one.
The Jays, who are receiving votes in the Class 5 poll, got one hit each off Leeper and Tyler Lepper. Leeper struck out seven in four innings.
"I think he just mixed his pitches up well and hit spots," Heath Lepper said. "He kept the ball down and some of those pitches would have been extremely difficult to hit."
Lepper struck out three, walked two and allowed the unearned run in two innings of relief.
The Jays' best chance to score early on was when they got runners on first and third after Wyatt Fischer advanced from first on a successful hit-and-run single by Schwartz. But the inning ended on a pickoff at first base.
"We did a lot of goofy stuff," Lasley said. "We just weren't ourselves. We weren't very sharp."
Grant Straub went 3 innings on the mound for Jefferson City, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts.
Jacob Roettgen went the remaining 3 innings, striking out seven while giving up one run on three hits.
Thursday's game was added to the schedule this week so both teams could avoid a long gap between the end of the regular season and start of the postseason.
The Jays last played Saturday and the Bulldogs would have had a week between games without the extra contest.
"It was good to come over here to get some swings in against a quality opponent," Lepper said.
South Callaway (21-8), the top seed in Class 3 District 8, will face either fourth-seeded Father Tolton or fifth-seeded New Bloomfield at 5 p.m. Monday in the semifinals at home.
Jefferson City (19-10), the No. 1 seed in Class 5 District 9, will begin postseason play at 4 p.m. Monday in Waynesville against either No. 4 seed Sedalia Smith-Cotton or No. 5 seed Camdenton in the semifinals.
"Just a lot of live reps and just making sure mentally these guys are focused and ready to go," Lasley said.