MOKANE — South Callaway senior pitcher Peyton Leeper tossed a one-hit shutout and senior shortstop Drake Davidson drove in three runs as the top-seeded Bulldogs blasted No. 2 Hallsville 10-0 in five innings for the Class 3, District 8 title Tuesday night.
South Callaway (23-8) — which has won seven games in a row — collected its fifth straight district championship. The Bulldogs share the No. 6 ranking with Lafayette County in Class 3 by the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association.
"This (district title) is validation for these players and what they accomplished," South Callaway head coach Heath Lepper said. "It's a big deal to them because of what (players) we lost from last season.
"These guys have their own goals and it's the same as it's been the last four or five years. We want and we expect to make a deep (playoff) run."
South Callaway now moves on to a highly anticipated rematch at the No. 1-ranked Palmyra Panthers (22-4) in a Class 3 sectional showdown next Monday. The Panthers won the District 7 title with a 4-1 victory over Macon on Tuesday night in Palmyra.
The Bulldogs bowed to the Panthers 8-3 on April 6 in Mokane.
"We're looking forward to it," Lepper said. "If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best — that's everybody's mantra when you're trying to get the job done to make a deep run.
"We knew Palmyra would be the sectional game if we were fortunate to get that far, but we didn't want to overlook the two (district) opponents that were sitting right in front of us.
"We have five days to prep for Palmyra. If we don't overthink it, we'll be in pretty good shape."
Leeper needed only 55 pitches Tuesday night to remain unbeaten at 9-0, striking out six and walking one. The only hit he allowed was a leadoff single in the top of the fourth.
"I can't give that boy enough compliments," Lepper said. "If you have to pick a word to describe Peyton, it's competitor. That kid is hard-working and deserves all the accolades.
"He spotted up well — if you can count on one hand the spots he missed, that's a good pitching performance. He didn't take any pitches off and he was locked in."
Davidson went 3-for-4 with a run scored to spark the Bulldogs' 12-hit attack. Leeper helped himself by going 2-for-2 with a double, two RBI and scored two times, while junior catcher Braden Lallier was 1-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Junior second baseman Devin Borghardt finished 2-for-3 with three stolen bases and scored three runs for South Callaway. Junior first baseman Jared Mistler went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
"Any time you can start things off anywhere in your lineup, you have to be pleased as a coach," Lepper said. "Any guy in our lineup knows they can start a rally."
The Bulldogs started fast by putting up two runs in the bottom of the first. Leeper started the inning by drawing a walk, stole second and came around to score when Davidson delivered a single to right.
Davidson moved to second on senior left fielder Tyklen Salmons' groundout, stole third and came home on Mistler's single to left.
South Callaway extended its lead by tacking on two more runs in the second. Borghardt was safe on an error on his one-out bunt, stole second and third, and scored on Lallier's groundout to make it 3-0.
Leeper followed with a double to right and immediately scored on Davidson's single to right.
The Bulldogs then started to pull away by breaking out for four runs with two outs in the third. Junior right fielder Caleb Hall singled to right and went to second on Borghardt's single to center.
Hall scored all the way from second to put South Callaway up 5-0 when Lallier was safe on an error. Borghardt advanced to third and Lallier went to second on the play, and both runners scored on Leeper's single to right.
Leeper was replaced by junior courtesy runner Adam Albaugh, who moved to second on an error and made it 8-0 when he raced home on Davidson's single to right.
The Bulldogs then punctuated their district title win with two runs in the fifth. Borghardt led off with a single to center, stole second and scored on Lallier's single to center.
Lallier went to second on the throw home and Leeper followed by coaxing a walk. Lallier came around to produce South Callaway's final run when Davidson reached on an error on his bunt.