Skip to main content

At long last, a title: Russellville claims first baseball championship with 5-3 win in Missouri Class 2 title game

Senior Logan Cinotto gets it done at the plate and on the mound in Indians' triumph.

By Buck Ringgold 

Photos courtesy of Ron and Lisa Rigdon, Cheap Seats Photo

OZARK — Exactly seven years ago Tuesday, Logan Cinotto and several Russellville teammates experienced the thrill of winning a tournament championship, playing travel ball. 

Cinotto was wanting to replicate that feeling when he took to the mound on Tuesday, seeking to help deliver the Indians their first state title in program history.

He more than helped his own cause.

Cinotto was solid for six-plus innings and didn't allow a hit after the fourth. Then on offense, he went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, including a huge insurance run in the bottom of the sixth as Russellville finally claimed its title with a 5-3 win against Portageville for the Class 2 championship at U.S. Baseball Park.

"I just had a Facebook history pop up (Tuesday) from seven years ago," Cinotto said. "All of us played on a travel team together and we went and won that championship tournament, and so to come in (Tuesday) and win it all, since it's our last game together, it doesn't get any better.

"Coming into the game, I had some really big butterflies going into this state championship game. ... I struggled the first couple of innings and finally found my groove. A little later, I started punching a lot of strikes in and we were shutting them down."

Cinotto, a senior who will play next season at East Central College in Union, was staked to a 3-0 lead in the second and the Indians (29-4) made it 4-1 in the bottom of the third. In the top of the fourth, the Bulldogs cut it to one run, 4-3, on a two-run single by Alex Winsor.

But it was the last hit Cinotto allowed. He retired the next eight batters before hitting Winsor to start the top of the seventh.

Cinotto proceeded to retire the next two hitters before giving way to Jesse Daniel. Daniel needed just four pitches to save the long-awaited title, inducing a groundball hit to third baseman Charlie Miller, who threw to first for the last out.

"We talked a lot about what our process was going to be," Russellville coach Lucas Branson said. "We worked really hard in practice, but the things that we do on a daily basis, trying to have fun, talking about making memories, and what better memory can you have than this.

"The work that all the coaches and all the players; previous players in different years, to get our program to this level was just a huge credit to all of those involved."

Cinotto gave up three runs on five hits over his 6 2/3 innings while striking out three.

But he also came up aces on offense. In the first, he hit an RBI single to give the Indians a 2-0 lead; then singled again in the third to help set up another run as Russellville built its 4-1 advantage.

With the Indians hanging on to their 4-3 lead, Jake Schulte led off the bottom of the sixth with a triple which bounced off the left-field wall. One out later, Cinotto came up and brought in Schulte by lofting a base hit into shallow left.

Read More

"Going into that at-bat was specifically just kind of sacrificing myself to the point just to get Jake across," Cinotto said. "I knew we had an out to give, and at all cost, I was going to do whatever I had to do to get Jake across the plate to give me that extra run.

"At the end of the day, I put it in the hole and he scored and it couldn't have worked out any better."

Schulte, a junior who was Cinotto's battery mate at catcher, had three hits as well, going 3-for-4. He had two triples, including one to right center which produced Russellville's initial run in the bottom of the first.

"I hit a lot of good balls, and it felt good to make really good contact because (Monday) I kind of had a rough day at the plate, so it felt good to come back and really battle at the plate," Schulte said.

Russellville took a 3-0 lead in the second when Alex Oligschlaeger drew a leadoff walk before going to third. With a runner on first, Branson decided to go for a double steal, and Oligschlaeger took off when the throw went to second, successfully crossing home plate.

The Indians made it 4-1 in the third on an RBI single from Daniel, who went 2-for-4 on the afternoon. Nolan Gartner went 2-for-3 as well, part of a 13-hit performance for the Indians.

Portageville (31-4) scored its first run in the top of the third on a two-out RBI single from Thomas Frakes, scoring Winsor. The Bulldogs were held to five singles.

Russellville ended the season winning 12 straight games. In its last nine ballgames, the Indians won five of those by three runs or less.

"Our guys, we're not going down without a fight and it doesn't matter how many throws and punches they give us, we're going to come back and we're going to fight back harder and by the end of the day, we're going to come out on top," Cinotto said.

And Cinotto's prophecy proved true, as it was him and the Indians doing the postgame dogpile. A title for Russellville, at long last.

"Oh man, I can't even put that into words right now," Schulte said. "It's still sinking in because that was just a great game.

"We wouldn't have wanted it any other way right now, because that was so much fun."

Class 2 Third Place

Plattsburg 13, Gainesville 5

The Tigers scored five runs out of the gate in the top of the first inning and later built a 9-2 third-inning lead as they went on to claim the Class 2 third-place game.

Plattsburg (29-9) also added four more runs in the sixth.

Nathan Bash had a pair of hits, including a double, and drove in four runs while scoring twice for the Tigers. Paul Nelson also went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

Kayden Carter was the winning pitcher, going the first six innings and allowing four runs - two of those earned - on four hits. He struck out four as well.

For Gainesville (21-8), Wyatt Alms was 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored, and Jake Leeker was 2-for-4 with a run scored.