Blue Springs South baseball coach Ben Baier sees pitching and defense as the Jaguars’ strengths.
He saw evidence of South’s strength at pitching during Monday afternoon’s 11-3 Suburban Big Six win over visiting Lee’s Summit.
Ethan Frazier and Colton Larkins combined for a three-hitter. Frazier struck out nine, yielded four walks and two hits and threw two wild pitches through six innings to get the victory. Larkins handled a scoreless seventh.
“Ethan did a great job on the mound today,” Baier said. “He’s been the calming force for us. He throws a lot of strikes, was able to mix in all of his stuff today, put it over. He had his fastball, curve and change – and they were all on today.”
Frazier (3-0) said he felt calm Monday. With the Class 5 No. 5 Jaguars (4-4 overall, 2-0 league) possessing “a lot of senior leadership,” he finds it “easy to be calm up there,” he said.
“Especially when you’ve got people behind you making plays like (Tyson) Cushman, (Tyler) Pittman and Will (Hughes) and everybody,” Frazier said.
Larkins struck out two and yielded a two-out single in his inning of relief. Baier gave Larkins the nod for the seventh inning because the Jaguars “were thin, thin, thin today on arms” after a big weekend tournament and Larkins hadn’t pitched since last Thursday, he said.
“He didn’t throw a lot…. That’s not a bad thing,” Baier said. “He’ll be able to come back here at the end of the week.”
By contrast, South made Tigers starting pitcher Ryan Laddish “throw a lot of (pitches),” Baier said.
“He went deep in the count with our guys a lot,” he said. “That ran him out of the game pretty early.”
Laddish went four innings, striking out three, and yielding three hits, two walks and two runs. He also threw one wild pitch.
“Ryan did great,” Tigers coach Jim Mellody said. “There was nothing wrong with what he did. When I talked to him after the fourth inning, asked him how he felt, he just said he was kind of tightening up a little bit, getting tired, so you’ve got to make a move.”
Lee’s Summit (3-5, 0-2) went through four relief pitchers, including two who failed to record an out.
“I was expecting a little bit better out of our bullpen kids today,” Mellody said. “But it just didn’t happen.”
The Jaguars generated most of their offense against Lee’s Summit’s bullpen during the sixth inning. After trading two runs with the Tigers in the fourth, taking the lead with a three-run fifth and yielding a run in the top of the sixth, South exploded with six runs in the bottom of the sixth on four walks, two hits and a hit batsman.
“Lee’s Summit … came at us – and they tested us well,” Cushman said. “And we just stuck with it and believed in ourselves and got some runs.”
Cushman and Nic Mertes led South with two total hits apiece. Blake Ford collected two of Lee’s Summit’s three hits.
SOUTH FALLS TWICE AT MIDWEST CLASSIC: The Jaguars finished their trip to the Midwest Classic at Francis Howell High School with a pair of losses, 13-7 to Class No. 10 Vianney and 12-11 in 10 innings to Fort Zumwalt South.
The first game marked the Jaguars’ second loss in three days to Vianney. Each team had nine hits, but South issued eight walks and committed six errors. Jake Lamb took the loss, and Nate Pecota and Mertes had two hits each.
Fort Zumwalt South scored seven runs in the fifth to take a six-run lead before Blue Springs South came back and tied it in the seventh. Andrew Olsen took the loss in relief, and Mertes had three of the Jags’ 13 hits. Max Atchity and Cushman each reached base four times. Tyler Pittman was named to the all-tournament team.
“It was a very rough day, and rough tournament, for that matter,” Baier said. “We are learning about ourselves. We did not pitch or field nearly as well as we think we are capable of during this trip.
“We played against some really strong teams that should be fighting it out for a final four berth from the east side of the state. We know we have to get better in order to compete at that level, and I believe we will.”