Despite a few errors on the way, the Blue Springs Rod’s Sports Athletics got the bounce-back they were looking for, and pitcher David Stober produced the type of performance the fielders behind him surely appreciated on a sultry evening.
Stober needed just 67 pitches for a seven-inning complete game, and the A’s converted enough scoring opportunities to post a 4-1 win over the Lee’s Summit Outlaws in the opener of Monday’s American Legion doubleheader at Hidden Valley Park.
The A’s (31-6) had just returned from a tournament in Lincoln, Neb., where they dropped the last three of five games, and Stober gave them a quick, efficient outing. He allowed just two hits with no walks and struck out three.
In the nightcap, the A’s pounded out 15 hits for an 11-5 win, led by Nate Carlton’s 4-for-4 effort with three doubles.
“It’s always good to win, but it was a good game to come back from (Lincoln) after losing three in a row,” said A’s manager Mike Rooney, whose team leads Zone 2 East with an 12-2 mark. “We competed a lot better, caught the ball better and got good pitching.
“We had three errors, and those can come back and hurt you, but we were able to overcome them. David was lights out. Overall it was just an outstanding performance.”
Stober said it was good having four full days off from pitching since his last game.
“It was the best I’ve felt in a long time,” he said. “Usually I’ve pitched in relief a bit in between the starts.
“I was spotting my fastball well, and as hot as it was, then I was trying to get quick outs. Our infield was working really well. I didn’t want to walk guys – trying to get out of the sun.”
Stober didn’t help his cause early, as Dalton Woods got hit by a pitch two batters in and advanced on a wild pitch and passed ball before Seth Soto’s RBI single.
But the Zone 2 West-leading Outlaws (25-14, 14-6) had just three more baserunners. An errant throw trying to complete a double play after a lineout put Chase Overton on third in the third inning, but Stober fanned Soto to strand him. In the sixth, Stober induced a double-play grounder to erase a leadoff error.
Rod’s Sports tied the game in the second when Jared Lafal stroked a leadoff triple to right and came home on a late fielder’s choice throw. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Dillon Jackson’s fielder’s choice grounder scored Carlton.
In the third, Corbin Hare scored when Jackson Markham uncorked a wild pitch with the bases loaded. Hare had reached on a leadoff single after dropped foul pop-up.
The A’s stranded two each in the third and fourth innings, but in the fifth a two-out throwing error left runners at the corners. Luke Miller’s wide lead off first base induced a rundown from Outlaws relief pitcher Herb Byers, allowing Brandon Bennefeld to steal home before the third out.
Outlaws manager Mike Gailey said his team had some well-struck outs but too many mental or physical errors to beat a high-caliber team.
“Those happen in baseball, but to compete against the top teams like the A’s and Fike, you can’t have those,” he said. “They threw well, we hit the ball hard and they made plays. I felt like we were always in the game, and credit to them – they took care of it.”
Ramon Rivera clubbed a home run and double for three RBIs to back Carlton in the second game. Jackson, Stober (triple, 3 RBIs), Lafal (RBI) and Kirk Finley also had two hits. Devon Sesler got the win after four innings in relief of Jonathan Fink.
Quentin Bradford doubled twice for three RBIs to pace the Outlaws’ 10-hit attack, and Kameron Gray and Miles Kilgore added two hits apiece. Alec Shuler took the loss.