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Examiner
  • Fike bounces back from low with pair of Wood Bat wins

  • There was a new bounce to the step of Blue Springs Post 499/Fike manager Jim Moran, which is saying something because the American Legion Wood Bat Invitational co-founder is limping along with a walking cast on his right leg.

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  • There was a new bounce to the step of Blue Springs Post 499/Fike manager Jim Moran, which is saying something because the American Legion Wood Bat Invitational co-founder is limping along with a walking cast on his right leg.
    He was angry and disappointed in his team following an ugly 5-1 loss to Creve Coeur (Mo.) Thoman-Booth Post 338 in the first game of the 25th annual baseball tournament Wednesday night.
    Following the game – in which Fike committed six errors, which led to all five unearned runs – Moran let his team have it in a lengthy postgame session.
    “We'll see what they're made of after I get through with them,” Moran, who is recovering from leg surgery, said after Wednesday’s game.
    Whatever he said, it worked.
    Caleb Humphreys threw a 13-strikeout gem to lead Fike to a 5-1 victory over Windsor (Mo.) and Reece Eddins followed with a two-hitter in an 8-0 mercy win victory over Bellevue (Neb.) Post 339 East. With Post 338’s 8-0 loss to the Warrensburg Post 131 Isotopes, Fike remains alive for the Pool A title or one of the three wild card berths in the quarterfinals. Fike meets Warrensburg, which was 2-0 entering Thursday's late game against Bellevue Post 339 East, at 8 tonight in its final pool game.
    “We got two great performances on the mound, some timely hitting and we played defense today,” Moran said after his team improved to 2-1 in pool play Thursday afternoon at Hidden Valley Park's Jim Moran Field. “I'm proud of them. I didn't know which team would show up today. I sure like the one that showed up today more than the one that showed up yesterday.”
    Through four innings of Wednesday’s opener, Post 499 had 10 hits, but only one run to show for all that offense. Carson Messner and Nick Mertes hit back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the second inning Thursday to give Humphreys a 1-0 lead.
    “We were hitting the ball well, I knew we were going to eventually score some runs,” said Humphreys, who had a season-high 13 strikeouts and retired 15 batters in a row from the first through fifth innings. “We hit absolute rock bottom in that loss to Post 338. We couldn't get any lower or dig any deeper. We haven't made that many errors in a game all season, but we did, there's nothing you can do about it and you just have to go out and have some fun and play better baseball.”
    Eddins stroked a two-run double to pad the Fike lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth, and he added a third RBI with a perfect bunt that scored Dylan Farrell from third in the bottom of the sixth inning.
    “I didn't feel any pressure going out and pitching today,” Humphreys said. “We were as cold as the Antarctic in our first loss and we were hot in both games today. We just have to keep playing like we did today and we can go a long way in this tournament.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Eddins picked up where Humphreys left off in the second game, allowing just two hits and no runs with seven strikeouts.
    “Our defense was so much better today. I was just pitching to contact,” Eddins said. “It was fun watching Caleb pitch the first game, and I wanted to go out and do well too. We did everything today you're supposed to do to win games.”
    Fike's Cale Benson, who had five hits in the two games, was 3-for-3 with an RBI and run scored in the second game.
    “The teams we played today struggled like we did yesterday, and we were able to take advantage of it,” Benson said. “We played good defense and got great pitching. We got great pitching from Alex (Smith on opening day) but we didn't do anything to support him.
    “We feel a lot better about the way we played today. Now, we have to keep playing this way.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     

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