That left head coach Jake Schroeder having to shake up the lineup, slightly, by putting Austin Ritenour out into the extra spacious outfield of Principal Park. After spending the first six innings patrolling left, Ritenour moved over to right after Schroeder made the call to bring Jordan Baughman in to close out the win on the mound.
Four batters later, Brandon Tofte lifted a liner that just got over Ritenour’s head with the bases loaded and Chariton clinging to a 4-2 lead. The recovery and strong relay throws to home plate gave Charger catcher Alex Wright a chance to force extra innings by tagging out Keeran with the winning run, but the Clear Lake sophomore clean-up hitter hit home plate just before being tagged to clinch to amazing comeback.
“It was just a combination of things that went against us in that situation,” Schroeder said. “Not having Ben hurt us because you’re asking Austin to play the outfield, then you ask him to play right which he hasn’t played all year for us. Having to play right as well at a place like Principal Park, which has so much room behind you, is tough for anyone to adjust to.”
“It was a mental mistake, but I know Austin. He’ll be back next season. He’ll work hard to get us back here next year,” Hall added.
Hall, unfortunately, will not get that chance as he and three senior teammates played their final games in Charger red and gray Tuesday night on the home field of the Iowa Cubs. Baughman, Wright and Austin Peterson were among the top five run producers in Class 3A this summer, helping lead Chariton baseball to one of the program’s overall most successful seasons ever as the Chargers went 35-6, won the outright South Central Conference title and made the program’s second ever trip to the state baseball tournament.