It’s a testament to how well his team has played all season that Lee’s Summit Outlaws manager Mark Bradford couldn’t get too upset over how awful it looked Tuesday night.
The Outlaws came into their American Legion baseball double header against Rod’s A’s fresh off an impressive showing in a tournament in South Dakota and before that an eight-game winning streak. So after the Outlaws laid two eggs – losing an 11-1 five-inning shellacking in the first game and a 9-1 beatdown in the second at Hidden Valley Park in Blue Springs, Bradford admitted to being surprised but not over concerned.
“I’m not going to get all worried about it,” Bradford said. “If it happens a couple more times in a row, yeah, it’s going to be a problem. But hopefully it’ll be a hiccup; we’ll learn from it and get better.”
It was somewhat baffling to Bradford because the Outlaws looked nothing like the team that reached the semifinals of the Renner Post 307 Invitational Tournament last weekend in Sioux Falls, S.D. That team looked sharp in going 3-1 in pool play and losing a 1-0 pitcher’s duel in the semifinals of the three-day tournament.
The Outlaws that took the field Tuesday managed only two runs and seven hits in the two games against Rod’s A’s. They also gave up 20 runs on 21 hits and committed seven errors. And that doesn’t include the base running blunders and other miscues, like a catcher’s interference call that put a runner on base in the first game.
“There were a lot of little things you don’t see very often, especially for us,” Outlaws infielder/pitcher Gunnar Gronberg said. “They just all happened today.”
They started happening in the first inning of the opener, when the A’s struck for four runs on five hits off Outlaws starter Matt Campbell. Anthony Gunn, who went four for four in the first game, got the first of his three RBIs with a single and Brett Rooney followed with a two-run triple.
The A’s added two runs in the second and three more in the third for a 9-0 lead. The Outlaws got on the board when Oscar Medrano led off the fourth with a double and came home on an error, but single runs in the bottom of the fourth and the fifth by the A’s brought the game to an early end.
“It was a weird night,” Bradford said. “We had defensive lapses, we made base running mistakes, their leadoff hitter got on every time but the last time and five of them were walks. You’re not going to survive when that happens.”
Gronberg started on the mound in the second game and survived the first two innings before the A’s unloaded on him in the third. He gave up five runs on six hits, one a shot down the third-base line by C.J. July for a two-run double, and another two-run double by Ty Simshauser.
“I was feeling pretty good, even through that inning,” said Gronberg, who struck out seven over five innings. “A lot of balls were hit to places you really don’t want to, and it just all tacked on in one inning. It was just unfortunate.”
The Outlaws got a run back in the fourth when Medrano singled and came around to score on two passed balls and a balk. But the A’s erupted for four more runs on three hits in the sixth, the big blow a towering first-pitch grand slam from Caleb Marquez.
“Every time we’ve played them it’s been a big-inning deal,” Bradford said. “Whatever it is, they’re getting big innings on us.”
Big enough to make Bradford wonder Tuesday night what happened to his team, which fell to 17-7 on the season. Whatever it was, he and his players don’t expect to see it again any time soon.
“We’ve got plenty of games left, lots of season left,” Gronberg said. “We’ll be back.”