Zane Barr turned to his personal pitching philosophy to save the day for the Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s Monday afternoon.
The A’s were leading Blue Springs Post 499 Fike 4-2 with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning when they turned to the recent Fort Osage graduate and soon-to-be Lipscomb University freshman to close the Hidden Valley Memorial Day Classic meeting. Barr responded by serving up a double-play ground ball to complete the A’s two-run win at Hidden Valley Park and help the A’s win the round-robin tournament.
“(When I pitch in relief), I try and go in and make myself feel like there’s no pressure, and I have faith in my defense that we can make a play if I let them hit it,” Barr said. “So I go in knowing I have to throw strikes, so we don’t walk anyone in.”
Barr was among four pitchers A’s manager Mike Rooney utilized Monday. Starter Jake Lufft threw a two-hit shutout through 4 1/3 innings for the win. Rooney, however, said that it should’ve been a one-hitter, arguing that the leadoff first-inning single attributed to Ross Greco should’ve been scored as an error instead.
“Our shortstop dropped it,” Rooney said.
After allowing Greco on base, Lufft retired 13 straight batters. He yielded a one-out, fifth-inning single, was called for a balk and then got ejected.
“(The field umpire) said he didn’t throw directly to first base,” said Rooney, who also saw two of his coaches tossed during the ballgame. “I don’t how you throw to first base without throwing directly to first base. He shouldn’t have been thrown out anyway, because if they would’ve recognized my timeout I was trying to get, it’d (have) been timeout and that (stuff) wouldn’t have happened. It was poor umpiring, as far as I’m concerned.”
Jackson Caley relieved Lufft, allowing two runs, two hits and a walk and striking out one through two innings. Max Gibler faced two batters in the seventh, plunking one and walking the other, before Barr was called on for the save.
“He came in at a super-tough spot, did a great job,” Rooney said of Barr.
The A’s pitching impressed Fike manager Doug Lohman, too.
“Those guys on the bump were pretty good today,” Lohman said.
Offensively, outfielder Ray Paniagua and catcher Caleb Marquez helped power the A’s to victory with three hits apiece. The A’s collected 16 hits overall.
The A’s claimed the momentum with two first-inning runs. Jared Larson’s two-out, two-run single made it 4-0 in the fourth.
Luke Moehle’s RBI single and Grant Lorenzen’s bases-loaded walk made it a two-run ballgame in the seventh. The A’s then brought in Barr, who forced Koby Powell to hit into the game-ending double play and cap the A’s sweep of the tournament.
“(With) it being so hot and us being tired as a team, we still played great. … We have a really long way to go,” Barr said. “But we’re just touching the surface of what we can be as a team.”
Fike finished the tournament 2-2.
“Defensively, we played pretty solid all weekend long,” Lohman said. “We need to swing the bat a little bit better and we’ll be all right.”