Even veteran baseball teams have their share of ups and downs, and Lee’s Summit West had some downs to shake off April 10.
The week before, West had taken a couple of tough losses – a 10-run beatdown against Park Hill followed by a seven-error, six-unearned run loss to Lee’s Summit – so the Titans were in need of some positive reinforcement when they played host to Lee’s Summit North.
And while there were still some wobbles, West did enough right to claim a 6-1 Suburban Gold Conference victory.
“It’s high school baseball,” West coach Jay Meyer said. “There’s the good, bad and ugly to all seasons. You just hope the (second) two come quick and fast and you stay with the (good) a lot longer.”
Meyer knew there would be struggles even with a team that has a core group of nine players back from last season’s 14-14 squad. The Titans are deeper and more experienced this season and the good has outweighed the bad enough to make for a 7-4 start.
But the Titans still had a rough patch to overcome, and things didn’t look too promising early when starting pitcher C.C. Crain started the game with back-to-back walks to North’s Dylan Lankford and Jaxson Hill. He wriggled out of the jam with the help of a double play.
“That had been a pattern, and as any young pitcher he was thinking, oh no,” Meyer said. “I was trying to loosen him up there a little bit then it got a little better.”
Crain settled down and held North to two hits with six strikeouts over six innings. The junior left-hander issued just one more walk after the first, but he knew after that first inning he wasn’t at his best.
“I went out there knowing I didn’t have my best stuff but I had to work through it,” Crain said. “I just used what I had and I think it worked out pretty good.”
Crain didn’t get much of a cushion to work with early on either. West took a 1-0 lead in the third on the first of two RBI-doubles from outfielder Carter Young.
North scratched out a run when Lankford walked and came around to score on a groundout in the top of the fifth. The Titans responded in the bottom of the fifth with a run on back-to-back two-out doubles from Sammy Cooper and Young, but they still had managed only four hits off Broncos starter Alex Callia.
Crain finally got some breathing room after the Titans put up four runs on three hits in the sixth. Kason Carter and Jake Grauberger had run-scoring doubles, Cade Clemons picked up an RBI with a sacrifice fly and Ben Kobel scored on a wild pitch.
“I’ve liked our approach at the plate all year,” Meyer said. “Our hitters have really made adjustments. We had some good at-bats and we finally hit some balls hard and opened some runs.”
Good enough, Meyer hoped, to get the Titans back on the upswing.
“I’ll take any win, but we probably needed that than more people probably realized,” Meyer said.