The Lee’s Summit Outlaws had a tall ask ahead of them going into the championship round of the American Legion Missouri State Tournament.
With it being double elimination, the Outlaws had lost their opening game against Festus Post 253 and Jefferson City Post 5 had yet to lose a game. So, in order for Lee’s Summit to win the state championship, it had to win two games, while Post 5 needed one.
The Outlaws tried to ride a wave of momentum following a big 9-1 victory over Jefferson City in Game 1 Saturday, forcing a winner-take-all final game later in the day.
However, the Outlaws just ran out of options for fresh arms on the mound after playing four games in three days. Jefferson City, having only played three games, was able to use one of its two ace pitchers in Game 2 and won 13-3 in seven innings, ending the Outlaws’ season.
“I thought we did the best we could,” Outlaws manager Mark Bradford said. “We put it on them right away, We were fired up in the second game but we kind of hit a wall.”
Lee’s Summit’s Cade Ragland pitched the final two innings of the first game then came back out for the second game and Post 5 immediately jumped on him with five runs and five hits in the first inning.
The Outlaws got two back in the bottom half with an RBI single from third baseman Justin Root and shortstop Oscar Medrano scoring after catcher Justin McEnroe grounded into a double play.
However, Jefferson City pitcher Ryan Paschal kept the Outlaws from doing much else the rest of the day. He scattered seven hits over seven innings and struck out three and walked only one.
“We hit the ball pretty hard off him but we just hit it right at someone,” McEnroe said.
It helped his cause that his offense gave him a big cushion by scoring three in the third, one in the sixth and four in the seventh, which included a three-run double from Cade Franks.
Lee’s Summit scored on an RBI groundout from Hayden Bradford in the seventh but that’s all it got in the inning as Paschal induced a groundout to end it early on the 10-run mercy rule.
After it was all over, Mark Bradford gave an emotional speech to his players, who are all graduating high school except for three. He had a hard time holding back tears, but luckily he had sunglasses to hide some of them.
“I’ve been coaching these guys since they were 8 (years old),” Bradford said. “It’s bittersweet.”
For pitcher Ryan Suholaski, who won Game 1, and McEnroe, making a deep run in the state tournament was a fun ride.
“It was a blast, especially with how competitive the games were yesterday,” McEnroe said. “Today was two blowouts. But the ones yesterday were so close, it was awesome.”
Added Suholaski: “This was an unbelievable ride. I enjoyed my time in Legion ball. It was my first time. Our trip to South Dakota and the trip here was unbelieveable.”
In Game 1, Suholaski pitched seven innings and allowed one run on seven hits and struck out three.
“I faced Jeff City in the Wood Bat tournament a couple of weeks ago and they hit me hard,” Suholaski said. “But it was with wood bats. So I was concerned they would hit me even harder with regular bats. But they kept popping up. They couldn’t handle slow speed, I guess.”
Grant Hill, Gunnar Gronberg, McEnroe and Medrano each had a run-scoring single in a four-run first inning.
Root had an RBI single, McEnroe doubled him in and Gronberg added another RBI single in the sixth for 7-1 advantage. McEnroe capped off his four-RBI day with a two-run single in the seventh. Hill finished the day 5-for-7.