Lee’s Summit baseball coach Jim Mellody first noticed he was on the verge of a milestone when he was doing some end-of-the-season paperwork a couple of years ago. He knew he had 193 wins going into this season, but he still hadn’t thought much about win No. 200.
“It wasn’t a career goal when I started that I wanted to win so many games,” Mellody said. “It was just one of those things that as it got closer I thought, yeah, that would be kind of cool.”
Mellody got that 200th victory on April 5 when Lee’s Summit downed Lee’s Summit West 6-2 in a Suburban Gold Conference game at Legacy Park. All those victories have come at Lee’s Summit, where he’s 200-155 early in his 14th season guiding the Tigers.
The moment was cool, Mellody admitted, but he didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. But his players wouldn’t let it go by without some sort of recognition.
“The kids saved the ball for me, so they knew somehow,” Mellody said. “I didn’t tell anybody and I didn’t announce it. I didn’t really think about it until then. They sweated us out in that victory so I was more worried about winning that game.”
West made Lee’s Summit sweat out the top of the seventh inning by scoring a run and loading the bases before the Tigers could get the final out. They also had to sweat out the solid pitching of Sammy Cooper and Kason Carter, who combined to hold the Tigers to five hits and five walks.
West’s undoing was in the field, where the Titans committed seven errors. All of the Tigers’ runs were unearned.
West took a 1-0 lead in the second inning before Lee’s Summit struck for three runs on two hits and two back-to-back errors in the third. Three errors helped bring home two more runs in the fourth. And Grant Baird drew a bases-loaded walk for another one in the fifth.
West, meanwhile, managed only five hits off Tigers starter Joe Vandenbos. The senior right-hander walked four and struck out three over six innings.
“Neither one of us hit very well, which just goes with good pitching,” Mellody said. “They threw the ball around a little bit on the infield and we took advantage of it. That was really the difference.”
Although he tried to keep it low-key, Mellody did enjoy an outpouring of text messages and tweets from former players, including members of his 2005 and 2017 state-tournament teams. Some of the players from his first teams are fathers now with sons playing baseball.
That was the coolest thing about win No. 200.
“I’ve just been lucky to have a lot of great players and lot of assistant coaches along the way that helped develop those players,” Mellody said. “It was fun when it happened.”