With a once commanding 13-run lead reduced to four in Tuesday's Class 3 District 16 championship game, Maryville turned to its most trusted pitcher Jonathan Baker.
The converted starter and soon-to-be Northwest Missouri State quarterback stopped the bleeding entirely.
Ever so reliable throughout his Spoofhound athletic career, Baker put the breaks on top-seeded LeBlond's improbable comeback bid with 2 1/3 scoreless innings and drove in the first of Maryville's three seventh inning runs with his fourth hit to secure an 18-11 win on a sun-soaked day at Phil Welch Stadium.
In a blowout turned two-way slugfest that contained 29 runs, 31 hits and 10 errors, Baker was the only one of eight pitchers used to go unscored upon. He retired seven of the nine hitters he faced and never allowed a runner into scoring position.
"We started off hot," said Maryville head coach Matt Houchin. "Sometimes when you start off hot like that, you kind of start letting up a little bit. And when the other team starts to make a run, it makes it even tougher for you to respond. I think we responded there. Jonathan was a guy we thought early in the season we were going to rely on and having him on the mound there to finish the game calmed everybody back down."
Baker finished off his scoreless outing by retiring LeBlond's Tyler Thrasher on a lazy flyout to left.
While the ball was still in flight, Baker had his arms raised, ready to celebrate the third district title of his senior season and the first for the Hound baseball program since 1986—pre-dating by a decade or more when any of the current players were born.
The Hounds, who entered the tournament with a 3-10 record and five straight losses, averaged 15 runs per game and outscored its two opponents 30-13.
"It's awesome," said Baker. "Everyone had doubts about this baseball team and the guys in the dugout held strong. The coaching staff always kept us positive and it just feels so great to hoist that trophy and know we're district champs."
The district title comes in the first year of Missouri's new five-class system in baseball.
Previously, there were only four classes, and the Hounds were bunched with a slew of bigger MEC schools like Smithville and Savannah.
This year, those schools moved up to Class 4, while the Hounds stayed in Class 3, making the road to a district title easier to navigate.
The one caveat was the Hounds had lost to LeBlond twice during the regular season and as recently as May 7.
But just like in the district basketball finals with Cameron, the Hounds won the third game in fairly decisive fashion.
Page 2 of 3 - "I think it's more pressure on them," said Baker.
It also helped that LeBlond used its top pitcher Jack Schanze the game before against University Academy, making him unavailable.
Maryville (5-10) feasted against the remainder of LeBlond's staff, scoring a season-high in runs with four crooked number innings. The biggest was a nine-run first.
The Hounds had 16 hits and six of their nine starters had at least two.
Baker went 4-for-6 with three run-scoring hits. Jarret Cronin drove in three and had three hits.
Lead-off man Ridge Yount also had three hits, and Tyler Tripp hit the game's only home run.
"Today, we actually put hits together," said Houchin. "We bunted a couple guys into scoring position and hit them in. When you're doing that, you're going to be very successful."
Half of Maryville's runs were scored during a nine-run first that contained six hits and three of LeBlond's five errors.
The Hounds knocked LeBlond starter Trey Hartman from the game and had six runs on the board before an out was recorded.
Tripp drove in the first three with a three-run blast to right following a pair of singles by Yount and Baker.
Junior catcher Trent Dredge made it 4-0 with an RBI triple to the gap in left center.
Maryville scored three of its next four runs on errors, and its last of the inning on a double steal.
Baker added an RBI single.
A two-run single by LeBlond's Matt McCullough cut Maryville's lead to 9-2 in the bottom of the first.
Hound starter Shane Owens held LeBlond scoreless over the next two innings, while Maryville added four third inning runs and two in the fourth to explode their lead to 15-2.
The Hounds' four third inning runs scored on a Baker double, an errant pick-off, a double steal and a wild pitch.
Noah Olinger, who relieved Hartman, and McCullough were both knocked from the game.
LeBlond began to eat away at Maryville's 13-run lead in the fourth
An RBI single from Patrick Dillon and a two-run single from Jonathan Zuptich made it 15-5, putting the run-rule in danger.
An inning later, so was Maryville's lead.
A less effective Owens gave up a lead-off triple to McCullough and an RBI single that made it 15-6 before being pulled after four-plus innings.
His replacement, sophomore Issac Bledsoe, only retired two of the seven hitters he faced.
Three consecutive two-out hits made it 15-11 and resulted in another pitching change.
With a runner at third, Baker avoided further damage by retiring McCullough on a soft line out.
Page 3 of 3 - Baker followed with a scoreless sixth and increased Maryville's lead in the seventh with a bloop single that drove in the first run given up by LeBlond's most effective pitcher Jonathan Zuptich.
Cronin, who made a key bare-handed play at short to begin the sixth, drove in Maryville's final two runs with a single.
Baker gave up a one-out single in the seventh before closing out Maryville's biggest win in over a quarter-century.
"Coach Houchin just told me this is what our goal was at the beginning of the year," said Baker. "I love that opportunity to be the guy to do it. We had a lot of guys that helped me get to that point, so it wasn't just me."
Maryville will play the winner of District 15 Monday at a site to be determined.
Richmond and Lawson play for the District 15 title tonight.
Two more wins would put the Hounds in the Final Four in O'Fallon.