The Lee’s Summit North baseball team has a somewhat unique routine before each Suburban Big Seven Conference game.
After school, the team grabs doughnuts from Krispy Kreme.
After Wednesday’s game against host Blue Springs, Justin Root and Hayden Bradford proudly wore their Krispy Kreme paper hats following a 9-3 win at Reynolds Field.
Bradford paced a resurgent North offense with three hits and three runs scored while Root pitched a complete game and hit a three-run home run in the sixth.
The Broncos (7-9, 3-2 Big Seven) came off a win against Lee’s Summit West in which they scored 10 runs, and they continued the offensive onslaught with nine runs and 11 hits. Five of those runs came in the first two innings of Blue Springs starter Ryan McMahan, who suffered the loss.
“Last week, we felt like we really struggled to put the ball in play and having good at-bats,” North coach Mike Westacott said. “Credit to this team for making adjustments and thus far we’ve had a pretty good week swinging the bats.
“I don’t want to say we knew what was coming, but we certainly seen (McMahan) a bunch. It changes your approach when you’ve seen a guy that well. We did a good job of jumping on him early.”
Added Bradford: “We’re just trying to put the ball in play and force runs across the plate any way we can. We know knew (McMahan) was going to try and work ahead so we jumped on him early.”
Gunnar Gronberg had an RBI single, Jeremy Root drew a bases-loaded hit batsman and a wild pitch led to a 3-0 lead in the first for North.
Blue Springs scored a run on a fielder’s choice grounder from Garrett McGowan in the bottom half, but the Broncos immediately countered with two runs in the second on four straight singles, with Justin Root driving in a run with one of those hits and a double play ground ball off the bat of Gronberg scoring another.
Blue Springs got one back in the fifth following a Peyton Smith RBI single that hit the first-base bag and bounced down the right-field line, but Justin Root got a fastball inside and crushed a three-run shot over the left-field fence off reliever Matt Smith to push North’s margin to 8-2.
“That’s my favorite pitch right there. I love the ball inside,” said Root, who scattered eight hits across seven innings, walked two and struck out three and went 2-for-3 at the plate with four RBIs. “I made solid contact and it went out.”
While the hard-hit balls from North were finding grass, the ones for Blue Springs were finding gloves. Root limited the Wildcats to 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. None were bigger than the strikeout he got in the sixth.
“For some of us, we were in a rush,” Blue Springs coach Tim McElligott said. “I don’t know how many fly ball outs we had, but we needed to keep the ball out of the air. The ball isn’t going to go anywhere with the wind blowing in.
“Root came in and threw a great game. He pitched backwards. He started off with curveballs when snuck a fastball in there. He mixed his pitches up really well and had us off balance.”
The Wildcats scored one run on an infield error and looked to add more with runners at second and first with no outs. Root, however, settled down and induced a pop-out, groundout and got a curveball to catch the inside corner to punch out Caleb Marquez to end the threat.
“I feel like I am more confident when there are runners on,” Root said. “I am more likely to not throw balls. That makes them hit the ball and our defense gets the out.”
McElligott said his team might have been tired from playing six games in the last seven days, so he’ll give his team a day off today before it plays Friday and Saturday.
“I think we might have been a little tired,” McElligott said. “We came off big wins against (Blue Springs) South and Staley and it’s hard to keep that momentum.”
Cade Ragland and Oscar Medrano had two hits each for North. Ray Paniagua was 2-for-3 and Jake Lufft and Peyton Smith both were 2-for-4 for Blue Springs (8-6, 1-1).