For a while, it appeared that Dalton Woods’ first home run would give the Lee’s Summit Outlaws enough firepower to down Washington (Mo.) Post 218 Friday night.
With a runner on first and no outs, Woods walloped a two-run shot to left field off Washington flamethrower Justin Schuler to give the Outlaws a 2-0 first-inning lead. However, Post 218 answered with a run in the second and three more in the fourth to hand the Outlaws a 4-2 National League White Division loss in American Legion Wood Bat Invitational play at Hidden Valley Park.
For Outlaws manager Mike Gailey, it felt good seeing Woods get the homer after watching the infielder/pitcher “come very close several times.”
“When he hit it, even though we thought it was gone, there ... (was) always that doubt because he’s come that close,” Gailey said. “It was good. It started us off well. Too bad that’s all we got out of it.”
For Woods, getting the homer came down to applying some simple strategy.
“He had pretty good velocity,” he said. “All I had to do was square it and let his velocity do the work.”
Alas, squaring up on Schuler’s fastball proved challenging overall for Outlaws, who mustered only three hits against him – two of them from Woods. Schuler struck out 11, walked one and plunked a batter in getting the complete-game victory.
“He throws pretty hard, so if he makes a mistake like that (homer) and they hit him, he has the capability of settling down and striking kids out — kind of turn the momentum back around,” Washington manager Mike Gardner said of Schuler. “He pitched a great ballgame for us.”
Schuler’s outing helped Washington (25-9) win the White Division title and put the club in Saturday’s quarterfinals. Based on the word online and elsewhere – and some pregame scouting – Post 218 expected the Outlaws to be one of two difficult challenges it would face in pool play, Gardner said.
“It was pretty obvious (from watching them that) they’re a solid ballclub and it would take a good game from us to beat them,” he said.
The Outlaws (27-16) will face Jefferson City Post 5 at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Hidden Valley in a consolation game before turning their attention to next week’s Zone 2 West postseason district tournament.
“It’s a position round, so we’re going to let some kids do some different things,” Gailey said. “But we also want to play smart baseball. We want to stay fundamentally sound and do our things (right).”