Blue Springs Post 499 Fike came into Friday’s final pool play game against DeSoto (Kan.) SMCI with a red-hot offense.
In its first three games of the Wood Bat Invitational, Fike outscored its opponents 26-2 and totaled 30 hits.
However, the Fike bats sputtered against DeSoto as it only collected four hits in a 6-4 loss at Hidden Valley Park’s Jim Moran Field.
Post 499 fell to 3-1 in pool play and 22-8 overall, but will end up winning the pool due to a tiebreaker and will advance to play in the championship quarterfinals Saturday. Fike meets Overland (Mo.) Post 338 Thoman Boothe in the quarterfinal at 3 p.m. Saturday.
According to the Wood Bat rules, when there is a three-way tie for first place in any pool, the tiebreaker goes to the team that allowed the least amount of runs. Fike allowed just eight while the other two 3-1 teams – SCMI and the Omaha Concordia Mustangs – allowed more.
SCMI starting pitcher Hunter Canada pounded the strike zone and used his sharp curveball to keep the Blue Springs hitters off balance. He tossed a complete game and allowed four unearned runs on seven hits and struck out three to pick up the win.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Fike Manager Doug Lohman said of Canada. “He battled and did a nice job. Sometimes you have to tip your cap and today was one of those days.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Fike got three consecutive singles from Ross Greco, Kyle Gaines and Crichton Hill to load the bases with no outs. Blue Springs put itself in prime position to tie it or take the lead. But Canada got a fielder’s choice ground ball out at home, a shallow fly ball to center and a line out to right to end it.
“He really commanded the strike zone very well,” Greco said of Canada.
Fike starting pitcher Grant Lorenzen wiggled out of a two-out, bases loaded jam in the second inning but an infield error put him in a 1-0 hole in the third. DeSoto made it 2-0 following Andrew Downs sacrifice fly, which was aided by a trio of singles during the top of the fourth.
Post 499 was the beneficiary of three errors in the bottom of the fifth. Koby Powell led off with a single and scored on a bunt from Aaron Jones after Canada made an errant throw to first. Greco then walked and Kyle Gaines laid down another bunt that resulted in another throwing error from Canada, which allowed Jones and Greco to score. A wild throw on a pickoff attempt from SCMI catcher Nick Carter resulted in a fourth run, making it 4-2 Fike.
However, DeSoto took the lead in the next inning aided by a botched rundown between second and third. Tom Hahn drew a bases-loaded walk, and Clayton Snudden and Canada followed with RBI singles to retake the lead at 5-4.
“We made a couple of defensive miscues that cost us a run here and there,” Lohman said. “In a two-run game, that hurts.”
Landon Swallow added an RBI single in the seventh for an insurance run, while Fike stranded five of its 10 runners in the final three innings. Despite that, Blue Springs still managed to advance.
“I feel good because we have a lot of pitchers left,” Greco said. “We had two guys who already pitched, but they should be good by Saturday.”