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Examiner
  • Postseason begins with division tourneys

  • There’s an unfortunate, unavoidable truth about this weekend’s Zone 2 East Tournament.

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  • There’s an unfortunate, unavoidable truth about this weekend’s Zone 2 East Tournament.
    The tournament, which begins with two first-round games today at Sedalia, is loaded with quality teams. Four squads in the five-team field sport winning Zone and overall records. While that will likely make for an exciting weekend of baseball, it also means at least one winning team is ending its season by the end of the weekend.
    The Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s (37-7, 21-5) have already clinched a spot in next week’s overall Zone Tournament after winning the Zone 2 East regular-season crown. That leaves two available spots for Blue Springs Post 499/Fike, Oak Grove Post 379, Sedalia Post 642 and Hi Boy Drive In/Post 340 to fight for.
    Of those squads, Fike (27-12, 15-8), Oak Grove (14-7, 14-7) and Sedalia (27-20, 14-12) all posted winning regular-season marks. The tournament starts at 5 p.m. today as Hi Boy and Sedalia meet. Fike and Oak Grove play at 8 and the A’s will take on the Hi Boy-Sedalia winner at 10 a.m. Saturday. The championship series will start at 4 p.m. Sunday with a second game slated for 7 p.m. Monday if necessary.
    Several of those teams also enter the tournament with some momentum. Fike is coming off a quarterfinals appearance in the American Legion Wood Bat Invitational, and although that ended with a 2-1 defeat to the O’Fallon (Mo.) West Jaguars, the performance drew praise from manager Jim Moran.
    “We’ve had an up-and-down season, but we did finish strong in the Wood Bat and hopefully that carries over to the (Zone 2 East) Tournament,” Moran said. “I thought we played defense better than we had the last week or two. The team seemed to pick each other up as we went along.”
    The A’s came away from the Wood Bat Tournament disappointed, but picked up some late steam and carried that over into their doubleheader sweep over Oak Grove in the regular-season final Monday for their fifth straight triumph.
    “We’re playing better,” A’s manager Mike Rooney said. “But I still don’t think we’re back to the potential that I think the team has.”
    As the fifth seed, Hi Boy enters as the underdog in the field, but that’s not dimming manager Byron White’s optimism.
    “You look at the records, even the top teams lost quite a few games,” White said. “There’s no undefeated teams or one- or two-loss teams. You don’t have to win the whole thing. ... I’ve got every bit of optimism that we’re going to be playing next week.”
    The Zone 2 West Tournament also begins tonight, although it will feature only four teams since the Independence VFW Post 1000 Bears were unable to field the required 12-player roster. The division-champion Lee’s Summit Hawthorn Bank Outlaws (35-8, 22-4) meet St. Joseph Post 11 (12-25, 9-17) at 7 p.m. at the Independence Athletic Complex while the Lee’s Summit Post 189 Pirates (16-18, 10-10) take on Independence Post 21 (13-27, 10-16) at the same time.
    Page 2 of 2 - There’s seemingly little pressure on the Outlaws, with a spot in next week’s tournament already locked up, but manager Mike Gailey said that’s actually not the case considering this weekend’s winner receives a bye in next week’s bracket.
    “Any time you can play one less game, you get to that level and it’s a big plus for your pitching and everything else,” Gailey said. “Our goal is to win it.”
    Follow Shawn Garrison on Twitter: @GarrisonEJC
     
     
     
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