Since he retired from managing two years ago, Blue Springs Post 499 Fike director Jim Moran has not stepped on the field during the game much.
He got used to being in the press box at Jim Moran Field during home games, operating the scoreboard. Tuesday’s American Legion baseball contest against Warrensburg Post 131 was an exception.
Outfitted in a red and white golf shirt and khaki shorts, Moran, who is also a Zone 2 commissioner, had to be an umpire because none were assigned to the game.
Luckily for Moran, there was someone in the stands who could assist him in umpiring duties. Larry Bolton, who is an umpire for the Missouri State High School Activities Association and has a son who plays for Warrensburg, served as the home plate umpire, calling balls and strikes from behind the mound because he didn’t have protective gear. Moran was the umpire for the bases.
They were in charge of the game for 2 ½ innings before a pair of official American Legion umpires arrived to take over. It was a rare sight, but it didn’t affect Post 499 in a 13-0 victory in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
Fike also took the nightcap 11-3 to complete the doubleheader sweep.
“I umpired many, many, many moons ago,” said Moran, who also umpired a couple of innings in a game between Fike and the Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s last season. “I don’t mind doing it. I was just fortunate that there were no close plays, so no one could get mad at us.
“Mr. Bolton had it tough. It’s not easy to make calls from where he stood. I had it easy. It was better to get the game started because Warrensburg has to travel home tonight.”
Fike catcher Luke Moehle said it felt odd not having an umpire behind him.
“It was kind of an interesting start to the game,” said Moehle, a recent graduate of Summit Christian Academy who is playing his first year with Fike. “It kind of felt like I was missing a piece of something without an umpire back there.
“But on the hitting side of things, nothing changed. We got a lot of hits and scored a lot of runs and that’s the name of the game.”
For Moehle, the situation didn’t affect the connection between him and Fike pitcher and Summit Christian teammate Matthew McWilliams, who picked up the win. He tossed four scoreless innings and allowed just three hits and struck out five as he commanded the strike zone.
“Luke helped bring me here,” said McWilliams, who was a late addition to the team. “This is something that allows me to throw a couple of innings and stay sharp during the summer.
“I threw OK. This is my first time back since high school ball. I’ve had a couple of weeks off. I just tried to hit my spots and let my defense work.”
Fike manager Doug Lohman said he was happy to add the Wichita State commit to the squad.
“Matt threw well, 82 percent strikes,” Lohman said. “He’s a welcome addition. He just throws a lot of strikes.”
Fike scored three runs in the first inning, five in the second, two in the third and three in the fourth.
Moehle helped lead the way by going 2-for-3 with a double, triple and four RBIs.
“I got some good pitches and did exactly what I wanted with them,” Moehle said.
Will Fisher added two hits, three runs and four RBIs, Kyle Gaines had two hits, three runs and two RBIs and Quinton Weld had a hit and two RBIs.
In the second game, Fike pounded out 12 hits for the 11-3 win.
Ross Greco led the way with three hits, including a triple, three runs and an RBI; Fisher had two hits, including a home run, three runs and two RBIs; and Scott Vestal had a double and two RBIs.
Jackson Arnold got the win after tossing five shutout innings. He allowed just two hits and struck out two.