It was more a matter of how, not when, the season ended that left Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary Outlaws manager Mark Bradford somewhat disappointed.
The Outlaws’ season came to an end last week with a third-place finish in the American Legion Zone 2 Tournament in Sedalia, not a bad outcome for a baseball team almost completely overhauled from the season before.
But after opening the tournament with two lop-sided wins, the Outlaws bowed out with two surprisingly sloppy losses.
“We didn’t play very well the last couple of games,” Bradford said. “We didn’t play our best baseball. It was kind of disappointing.”
Lee’s Summit looked ready to roll after routing St. Joseph Post 11 12-0 in their tournament opener at Blue Springs’ Hidden Valley Park. The Outlaws scored eight runs on six hits in the second inning, including a two-run double by Jeremy Root and a two-run single from Justin Hopson.
Root, Will Murray and Jarrett O’Shaughnessy combined to hold St. Joseph to one hit and two walks with five strikeouts.
“Post 11 usually gives us a hard time,” Bradford said. “We were kind of geared up for that game.”
After pounding Post 11, the Outlaws took advantage of a wild 16-run second inning for a 19-6 victory over Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s in the semifinals in Sedalia. Root had two singles, three runs and two RBIs in the frame, which included six hits, eight walks, two hit batters and four A’s errors. Lee’s Summit sent 22 batters to the plate before it was over.
“Never seen that before,” Bradford said. “When something like that happens there’s got to be issues on one side. We definitely made them pay for every one of them in that inning.”
But the Outlaws would have issues of their own over their next two games, most notably errors. Two errors contributed to a 6-4 loss to the Sedalia Post 642 Travelers that knocked them out of the winner’s bracket. Trevor Key went three-for-four against Sedalia, but the Outlaws couldn’t overcome a 5-1 deficit after three innings.
And in a rematch with the Rod’s Sports A’s in the loser’s bracket final, the Outlaws made three more errors in a 7-5 loss. The Outlaws led 2-0 after the first inning but couldn’t make the lead stick after being held to four hits. They also couldn’t take advantage of eight A’s errors.
“We hadn’t played bad defensively like that in a while,” Bradford said. “We had enough offense to win that last one and the A’s didn’t exactly play well either. It was a pretty ugly last game.”
The loss brought an end to a 21-13 season for the Outlaws, who only had three holdovers from the team that went 35-10 and that made it to the American Legion State championship series last season.
And even after the disappointing ending, Bradford sees plenty of reasons to be optimistic about next year. Other than infielder Jason Gonzalez, everybody else is eligible to return next season. That includes Root, who led the team in batting and RBIs this season.
“I thought we finished where we should have at least,” Bradford said. “We could have gone higher but that’s the way it goes. Hopefully we’ll use this experience and go farther next year. They all know they’ve all been through it now and know what to expect.”