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Outlaws headed for season’s home stretch

Jason Gonzalez swings at a pitch during the Lee’s Summit Outlaws’ game against St. Joseph Post 11 in the Wood Bat Invitational in Blue Springs. The Outlaws won three of five games in the tournament.
Jason Gonzalez swings at a pitch during the Lee’s Summit Outlaws’ game against St. Joseph Post 11 in the Wood Bat Invitational in Blue Springs. The Outlaws won three of five games in the tournament.

With the zone tournament looming on the horizon, the Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary Outlaws are hitting the home stretch of the American Legion baseball regular season.

Considering what the Outlaws did in last week’s American Legion Wood Bat Invitational, Outlaws manager Mark Bradford believes the Outlaws should be ready for that stretch.

The Outlaws didn’t make the quarterfinals in the 30th Wood Bat Invitational, but they did win three out of five games in Blue Springs. And if not for a tough 3-2 loss to St. Joseph Post 11 way back in their first game July 4, the Outlaws might have made the quarterfinal round for the second straight season.

“I thought we played pretty well,” Bradford said. “I think we finished where our potential was. Actually, I think we should have won the St. Joe game; we’d have been in (the quarterfinals).”

The problem against St. Joseph was getting timely hits, and that would plague the Outlaws during the tournament as it has often this season. After beating Ada, Okla., 5-4 and Lemay (Mo.) Post 162 10-3 in their next two games, the Outlaws managed only four hits and lost to Washington (Mo.) Post 218 4-1 in their pool play finale.

That loss to Washington, which went on to lose to Elsberry (Mo.) Post 226 9-7 in the championship game July 8, eliminated the Outlaws from the quarterfinals.

“Washington has lost only three games all year,” Bradford said. “We just couldn’t get any hits in that game. We made a base running mistake or two that didn’t help.”

The Outlaws made two errors against Washington and couldn’t get a run across until Justin Hopson hit an RBI single in the sixth inning. Half of their hits came in that frame.

But Washington struggled to get runs against Outlaws starter Carter Bradford, who Mark Bradford said had one of his best outings of the season. A sophomore-to-be at Lee’s Summit North, Carter Bradford gave up six hits and two earned runs with five strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings.

“Carter had a real good performance against Washington,” Bradford said. “That’s a real good team he went up against right there.”

Carter Bradford’s outing continued a good stretch of pitching for the Outlaws. Jeremy Root threw five scoreless innings against Ada before tiring in the sixth; Jarrett O’Shaughnessy surrendered just one earned run and recorded his first complete game of the year against Lemay.

The pitching wobbled early in the Outlaws’ 8-6 five-inning victory over Quincy (Ill.) Post 37, in their tournament finale July 7, but it didn’t matter after Lee’s Summit scored six runs on three hits and four walks in the third. Jaxson Hill’s two-run triple sparked the rally.

“I thought our pitching was real good,” Bradford said. “That was probably the best stretch of five games we had. I think wood bats had something to do with that. But still you have to make the pitches and not walk people.”

Bradford hopes that pitching continues this week as the Outlaws play their last four games in American Legion Zone 2 play. After traveling to Warrensburg for a doubleheader July 12, the Outlaws finish with two more against Lee’s Summit Post 499/Fike July 14 at Legacy Park.

The Zone 2 tournament will begin July 17 at Hidden Valley Park and continue in Sedalia.

“We’re hoping we can put it all together and get some hot bats going, keep our pitching and defense playing like they’ve been,” Bradford said.

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