For a team that registered two hits, Friday’s first game still went quite well for Blue Springs Rods Sports Athletics.
Three A’s pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout, and they benefited from seven hit batsmen in a 4-0 seven-inning win over Independence Post 21 in the season-opening Byron White Memorial Day Tournament at the Independence Athletic Complex.
Left hander Jared Lafal started on the mound for the A’s and scattered four hits while striking out three in four innings. Grant Gavin relieved Lafal after a leadoff single in the fifth and struck out five in two innings, yielding just one walk. David Stober struck out two more in the seventh.
“Very good way (to start),” A’s catcher Luke Miller said. “We’ve started off good, so let’s keep it going.”
Miller said he saw lots of “good strikes” from his pitchers.
“Not very many walks at all,” he said. “They were keeping the batters off-balance and had good off-speed (stuff). (Gavin’s) changeup was working well.”
Post 21 starter Corey Pleacher was equally effective to start, retiring the first eight batters. But after Miller reached on an error and Kirk Finley drew a walk in the third, Jeremy Lufft fisted an RBI single to right. In the fourth, leadoff hitter Corbin Hare was plunked, advanced to third on a throwing error and scored when Ramon Rivera lined a one-out single to left.
That A’s managed no more hits, but the Post 21 pitchers didn’t help themselves. The sidearming Pleacher clipped three more batters in the fifth, and Hare then plated Finley with a one-out line drive sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.
In the seventh, reliever Jason Lyons hit two batters. Following a fielder’s choice, the A’s pulled off a double steal and Stober’s ground ball up the middle again chased in Finley. Lyons later escaped with the bases loaded after a walk and another plunking.
“That’s really what hurt us tonight – we gave up some free runs by hitting batters,” Post 21 manager Tim Madsen said. “Corey did a really job coming out, but then he was getting too high with his pitches. We’re used to seeing more ground balls.
“We’ve got to get the bats going and be more consistent, but other than that I think it was a good start.”
The all-around good game made the measly two hits easy for A’s manager Mike Rooney to digest.
“We got hits when we needed to,” he said. “We didn’t have that many strikeouts, played good defense and all our pitchers threw real nice and kept us ahead.”
“It’s always nice to win the first game – it’s certainly better than the alternative.”
• While the A’s pitchers had a tag-team effort, the Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears got a four-hit seven-inning shutout from Gannon Ogle in its own 4-0 win over Blue Springs Post 499 Fike.
The Bears scored one run in the first and three in the second. Eli Henderson and Kyle Pleacher had a double and single apiece to pace an eight-hit attack.
Kaleb Salmon took the loss for Fike, which was minus a handful of players still with the district-champion Blue Springs South high school team, which plays host to Lee's Summit West at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in a Class 5 sectional playoff.
The second pair of games Friday matched the A’s against the Bears and Fike against Post 21. Results were not available at press time.