Mike Rooney was tickled pink, and it had nothing to do with the pink camo jersey he was wearing under his Rod’s Sports A’s windbreaker.
The usually stoic A’s manager actually broke into a smile talking about his team’s 6-1 victory over Blue Springs Post 499 Fike, Wednesday night at Hidden Valley Park, as Rod’s longtime teammates David Stober and Corbin Hare starred in a Children’s Mercy Hospital Night game where each team wore pink jerseys.
Fike battled back for a 4-3 win in the nightcap, raising its record to 7-2 in the Zone 2 East Division and 16-5 overall. The A’s are 27-3 overall and lead the Zone 2 East with an 11-2 mark.
Stober went the distance in the first game, striking out four and just allowing three hits on 105 pitches, while Hare provided some early offensive support with a two-run, first-inning single.
“It’s great to get the early runs,” said Stober, who has been a teammate of Hare’s for several years, including four at Blue Springs High School, along with their time together with the American Legion A’s and at Rockhurst University.
“We’re playing well right now. We’re getting some timely hits and we played well all around tonight.”
Rooney backed that comment, adding, “Offense, defense, pitching and timely hitting – we got the job done tonight. A couple of boneheaded mental mistakes on the basepaths, but they didn’t cost a run or cost us the game.
“If we play like this throughout the rest of the season, I’ll be happy. Stober was in command all night, and we got a couple of big hits to give him some support. That’s a really good Fike team. Anytime you beat Fike, you’re know you've played well.”
Dillon Jackson opened the game with a walk and Jeremy Lufft followed with a single. Both runners advanced on an Alex Smith wild pitch and came home a sharp single by Hare.
“We have so much confidence in all our pitchers,” Hare said, “but we really have a lot of confidence in David. We knew we’d have a good chance of winning this game if we gave him some early run support. He got that 2-0 lead in the first and shut them down the rest of the game.”
The lone Fike run came in the top of the fourth on single by Cale Benson and a walk to Garrett Phillips. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, and Benson scored on Blake Roberts’ sacrifice fly to center.
Stober helped his own cause with an RBI single in the third, and the A’s put the game away with a three-run fifth inning. Jackson walked and scored on a Lufft double that banged off the wall in left field.
Stober then collected his second RBI single and Jared Lafal put the finishing touches on the A’s win with an RBI single.
“We played well in Springfield (4-0 before rain wiped out the final day of the tournament) and we go to Lincoln, Neb., tomorrow for a big tournament and the Wood Bat (Invitational) starts next week,” Rooney said, “so this is the time of the year you want to play good ball.
“We’re about to head into the postseason, and if we keep playing like we’ve been playing, we could have some success.”
Fike manager Jim Moran said his team lost to the better team.
“Those kids play 60 to 80 games together,” Moran said, alluding to the A’s basically taking the Blue Springs High School team into Legion play. “They are good, year in and year out. We’ve played well, but Stober was really on tonight and they got some big hits.”
Jackson walked twice, singled and scored three runs from the leadoff spot for the A’s, and Hare singled twice and walked.
Rod’s Sports also jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second game as Ramon Rivera drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs and Zach Robinson followed with a two-run single.
Post 499 Fike made its big response in the fourth, loading the bases on two walks sandwiched around an error. Nate Pecota’s fielder’s choice plated one run, Braden Younkin singled in another and Derek Case doubled in two more.
Younkin finished with three of Fike’s five hits, including a double. Tanner Lucas pitched a complete game, scattering three hits and four walks with three strikeouts on 115 pitches.
Jonathan Fink took the loss for the A’s after allowing five hits and three walks with five strikeouts in six innings.