In two contrasting games July 14, Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary Outlaws manager Mark Bradford saw a team ready for the American Legion baseball postseason.
The Outlaws will launch into the Zone 2 Tournament on the heels of a split with Post 499/Fike of Blue Springs at Legacy Park. They started the doubleheader by clobbering 19 hits in a 17-6 five-inning victory; they ended it on the wrong end of an early pitcher’s duel in a 6-4 loss.
Put the pitching and the hitting together, and the Outlaws could be a factor as the Zone 2 Tournament gets under way July 18 at Hidden Valley Park in Blue Springs and continues in Sedalia. The Outlaws (19-11) are seeded fourth and will face St. Joseph Post 11 in the first round.
“I’m hoping were going to keep that going right into zone,” Bradford said. “That’s the plan.”
That’s especially true for the Outlaws’ bats, which have struggled at times this season. But after getting 23 hits in a 12-3, 12-1 doubleheader sweep at Warrensburg two days before, the Outlaws collected another 27 in the two games against Fike.
Nine of those hits in the opener against Fike came during an eight-run fourth inning that put the game away.
“We were on today,” said Outlaws third baseman Justin Hopson, who went three for four with three RBIs in the first game. “Everyone was hitting the ball everywhere. It was a keep-the-line moving kind of thing.”
The Outlaws picked up where they left off in the first inning of the second game with three runs on three hits in the top of the first inning. Wyatt Urzendowski singled and Blake Marholtz (three for three with two RBIs in the opener) doubled to score two of the runs. The Outlaws also took advantage of two Fike errors in the inning.
But when Fike starting pitcher Will Fisher settled in after the first, the Outlaws would manage only one more run and four hits the rest of the way. Fisher, a right-hander and 2017 William Chrisman graduate, walked none and struck out eight over 6 2/3 innings.
“I think he got notched up a little bit and locked us down a little,” Bradford said. “That kind of took the wind out of our sails and we couldn’t quite get it back.”
Outlaws starter Carter Bradford, a sophomore-to-be at Lee’s Summit North, protected that lead by holding Fike to one hit over three scoreless innings before giving up a run on four hits in the fourth inning. Fike took the lead with four runs in the fifth, but it wasn’t all his doing.
Lee’s Summit took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth after Trevor Key doubled and scored on an error in the top of the frame. But after Carter Bradford got the first Fike batter to line out, the next two reached on errors – Key mishandled a liner at shortstop and Hopson misjudged a ball hit down the third-base line.
The miscues set up a two-run double by Quinton Weld. A wild pitch scored the game-tying run, and Fisher followed with a towering home run to dead center field for the go-ahead run.
Carter Bradford exited after the inning with after surrendering six hits and no walks with four strikeouts. Only one of the runs was earned.
“We should have been out of that inning,” Mark Bradford said. “We catch that soft liner and we get that ball at third and we probably win the game.”
A win also could have meant a higher seed in Zone 2 play, but the Outlaws still felt confident about the postseason after the split as they pursue a return trip to the American Legion state tournament after reaching the championship series last year.
“We’re excited for Zone,” Hopson said. “We have a hot team going in. We’re ready.”