A collective change in plate approach almost pushed the Lee’s Summit Outlaws to a comeback win Thursday morning at Hidden Valley Park.
Trailing Bellevue (Neb.) Post 339 West DJ’s Dugout 2-1 with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, Brett Conrow walked and Dalton Woods reached base on an infield single. But DJ’s Dugout pitcher Mitch Savine squashed the Outlaws’ hopes of winning their American Legion Wood Bat Invitational opener by getting a game-ending fly out to center field.
Manager Mike Gailey attributed the rally attempt to the Outlaws becoming more selective at the plate – something he felt was lacking early, and a change in credited partly to coach Dan Woods.
“We started putting the ball in play where we should and hitting the ball hard,” Gailey said. “They made some nice plays out there.”
According to Dalton Woods, the Outlaws became more selective after going through their batting order the first time.
“First time around, everybody was seeing what the pitcher had,” the infielder said. “Then the second time around, people really waited back and got a good pitch to hit.”
By playing the waiting game, the Outlaws collected five hits in their National League White Division loss – four of them after Savine had faced their lineup for the first time. They also drew three walks. However, Savine recorded six strikeouts in a complete-game outing that pleased manager Michael Hagge.
“We thought Lee’s Summit would be our toughest test in our pool, and we threw our best guy and he came through for us,” Hagge said.
The Bellevue, Neb., squad defeated its tough pool-play opponent by scoring early. Brennan Cascio scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the second. Mike Gilbert’s two-out, up-the-middle single in the third scored Jordan Kelly to make it 2-0.
Brian Conrow scored on an out for the Outlaws’ lone run in the fifth. They left the bases loaded that inning and then went down in order in the sixth before their seventh-inning threat.
“I’m proud of the way we bounced back,” Gailey said. “We didn’t quit.”
Still, it was a “tough loss,” admitted Gailey, who said that Outlaws pitcher P.J. Seufert threw “well enough that we should’ve won the game.” Seufert allowed four hits and three walks and plunked one batter in a complete game.
“But, hand it to them,” Gailey said. “They took care of their business.”
The Outlaws recovered to win their second game Thursday evening, shutting out the Gravette (Ark.) Lions 8-0.
Also Thursday morning, the Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears suffered an 8-0 loss to Elsberry (Mo.) Post 226 and are 0-3 in the tournament. Trey Stout took the loss on the mound.