After it got three hits that didn’t leave the infield to help rally past the Lee’s Summit Outlaws in the sixth, Blue Springs Post 499 Fike went for good in more conventional fashion in the seventh.
Nic Mertes bounced a one-out RBI single up the middle in the top of the seventh, and semi-submariner Blake Roberts stranded a runner to close out Fike’s 4-3 win over the Outlaws in the first game of Friday’s American Legion doubleheader at Legacy Park.
Fike (10-1) completed the sweep by scoring seven runs in the bottom of the fifth for a 14-4 mercy-rule win in the nightcap. Post 499 stayed unbeaten in Zone 2 play (4-0) and handed West Division leading Lee’s Summit its first zone losses (16-9, 5-2).
With one out in the top of the seventh, Fike’s Zach Ehlen doubled to left off Outlaws reliever Seth Soto and scored on Mertes’ single.
“I was struggling a little bit today,” Mertes said. “But I finally got something I could hit a little harder and it found a hole. Sometimes that’s just how it goes.”
Fike managed two hits and a walk against Outlaws starter Jackson Markham through five innings and trailed 1-0 thanks to Kameron Gray’s two-out RBI single in the second.
But Ehlen led off the sixth by fisting an infield single over the pitcher’s mound and took second on the errant throw, then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Two batters later, with Ehlen charging down the line, Cale Benson laid down a squeeze bunt that resulted in a tie game and an infield hit.
Markham walked the next two batters, and then it was Benson’s turn to break early for home. Sixth-hole hitter Jake Krska also got his bunt down and received a hit thanks to coverage at first. Andrew Olsen followed with a sacrifice fly to score Garrett Phillips for a 3-1 lead.
“They’re expected to be able to bunt all the way through – doesn’t matter if it’s the 2, 3, 4 or 5 spot,” Fike manager Jim Moran said. “Obviously, two squeeze plays in the same inning is something you rarely see, but we sure needed them. The second one, he might’ve had home stolen, and if the bunt had hit him, he’d have been out.
“The Outlaws are an exceptional team, so this is a big win.”
Lee’s Summit quickly bounced back, as Soto drew a leadoff walk from Tanner Lucas, Quinton Bradford doubled him home on the next pitch and two fly outs scored Bradford with the tying run.
The Outlaws then loaded the bases against Lucas and reliever Krska, but Victor Schofield replaced Krska on the mound and induced an inning-ending fly ball.
“We battled but didn’t get it done,” Outlaws manager Mike Gailey said. “They made plays and we didn’t, so give them credit.”
“(Markham) threw a great game. Anytime you give up three runs, you should have an opportunity to win it.”
Lucas scattered five hits, three walks and a pair of hit batsmen in 5 2/3 innings.
“That’s the second good outing in a row for Lucas,” Moran said. “We felt with the heat, he was just getting a little tired. We went to Jake to give them a different look, but he was having trouble getting it over the plate. Victor gave up a hard-hit ball, but it worked out.
“You can’t give it to them. If they beat you, you have to make them earn it.”
In the nightcap, Fike score one in the first, three times in the second and two more in the fourth before its big fifth. Braden Younkin led a 12-hit attack with a double, two singles and two runs.
Phillips belted a home run and double for three RBIs, and Ehlen (3 runs, double), Roberts (double) and Derek Case also had two hits. Schofield got the win after pitching 3 2/3 innings of one-hit relief after Olsen started.
Alex Schuler suffered the loss for the Outlaws after giving up one earned (five total) in three innings. Soto doubled and singled at the plate.