Grant Heimer hoped he had set the tone for Billings on Wednesday by leading off the Wildcats’ Class 1 Quarterfinal matchup with St. Elizabeth on Wednesday with a single.
“I thought that was going to be our spark and we would hit well,” Heimer said.
Instead, it turned out to be the lone base hit for Billings and Heimer was the Wildcats’ only baserunner in their 14-0, five-inning setback to the Hornets.
St. Elizabeth pitcher Brock Lucas was dominant. The Mizzou signee struck out nine and walked no one. He struck out four in the fourth, after Quentin Gold reached first following a wild pitch.
Lucas lived up to the hype surrounding him leading up to the game.
“He was obviously really good and we knew that coming in,” Billings coach John Craig said. “We got all the scouting reports of how hard he throws and his fast ball is really good. He was everything that everybody told us.”
Heimer noted Lucas quickly gained enough respect from the home-plate umpire to get a strike call on the outside corner of the plate.
“Once he got comfortable and started pumping his fast ball outside, he got the umpire’s zone,” Heimer said. “It was over when that happened.”
Other than Heimer’s single, about the only hard-hit ball for Billings came off the bat of Jason Sekscinski, who lined out to center field.
Meanwhile, St. Elizabeth scored four runs in the first inning, four in the second, one in the third and five in the fourth off of Billings starting pitcher Chase Verch and reliever Brayden Garbee.
Lucas also received plenty of respect from Craig. He was intentionally walked twice in between going 2-for-2 with a double.
Jace Kesel led the Hornets with three hits, including a double, and three RBIs. Isaac Green was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, Gavin Williams had two hits and two RBIs, Noah Chipman had two hits and a walk and Caleb Oligschlaeger doubled and walked.
“The lead-off kid (Oligschlaeger) and Lucas are solid,” Craig said. “Their whole lineup did what they had to do — they put the ball in play. You can get a lot of stuff going just by putting the ball in play.”
St. Elizabeth (16-6), which is commonly mistaken for a private school, is a public school about 30 miles east of Eldon in rural Miller County. The Hornets were state champions in 2019 and move on to the Class 1 Final Four for the fourth straight season.
Billings catcher Mason Ebert, who hit six home runs and batted near .500 on the season, fanned in both of his at-bats. He had a grand slam in the Wildcats’ 17-7 Sectional win at Lamar.
“He’s our guy in the three-hole,” Heimer said. “We expect him to hit the ball and drive in runs. My job is to get on base for him and (two-hole hitter Verch). I’m looking for anything to get on base so they can get an RBI.”
“(Ebert) can swing it,” Craig added. “He’s a great stick and has a great arm behind the plate. He’s a sweet-swinging kid. He knows the game well. I have no doubt he can play somewhere at the next level.”
Ebert, Heimer and all but one Wildcat will return next season, as Billings (15-11) will look for its third straight District championship.
“We’re definitely coming back here,” Heimer said. “We’ll prepare better and be ready to face anything that comes at us.”
“We’re really proud. But there is still more work to be done,” Craig said. “What we want and what we expect Is to play for a District championship and get everybody free T-shirts.”