Fort Osage needed to relax more at the plate Friday afternoon – or at least infielder Chad Sutton thought so after the Indians’ 15-5 loss to visiting Liberty in six innings.
“Last year, we beat this team in districts (3-1),” said Sutton, who went 1-for-3 with a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored in the Northland Tournament semifinal defeat. “I think we were all pumped to show ... (them) again. I think that we were just a little anxious at the plate, including myself.”
However, Indians coach Chris Walker said Liberty (17-3) took the field “dialed in and we didn’t.”
“You can’t play that way against a good team like Liberty,” he said.
The Blue Jays showed their sense of readiness by tacking up four first-inning runs, thanks to Ryan Fisher’s three-run home run and Jacob Francis scoring on a double-steal-and-error combination.
Jason Volkmann’s two-run homer sparked a three-hit, four-run fourth inning. Joe Kinder’s two-run homer made it 10-0 in the top of the fifth.
Fort Osage (9-7) answered in the bottom of the fifth with Ryan Toliver’s RBI infield single and Hayden Baumgartner’s RBI single to right field.
The Blue Jays added five more runs on five hits, a walk and an error in the sixth, including Volkmann’s three-run homer. Some fans may have wondered if the ball cleared the outfield fence. Even Liberty coach Kirk Bragg seemed uncertain.
“They (umpires) said it went over the fence,” Bragg said. “From my side, I couldn’t tell. But, yeah, ... (they) said it went over. I guess there’s another fence back there (behind the outfield fence).”
Liberty’s four homers were atypical of the Blue Jays offensively, according to Bragg.
“We’ve been pretty unorthodox in almost all of our games (offensively),” he said. “We’ve hit the ball, we’ve not hit the ball, we’ve had to move runners over. It’s just been a little bit unpredictable for us offensively.”
The Indians scored their final three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Two of them resulted from Sutton’s one-out double.
Overall, Fort Osage “didn’t play very well,” Sutton said. Still, he maintained confidence the Indians would rebound.
“When we’re swinging at our pitches, we’re just as good as any other team – in my opinion,” he said. “That might be my senior leader bias, but I have faith in my guys.”