For two innings, the visiting Winnetonka Griffins and host Grain Valley Eagles were locked up in a 1-1 Suburban Small Seven pitchers’ duel at wind-blown Grain Valley High School.
The Eagles then exploded for 12 runs in a bottom of the third inning that saw each player come to bat twice, while eight Eagles scored a run and eight Eagles drove home a run on the way to a 15-1 victory.
Max Chapman allowed one unearned run in three innings and Josh Kilpatrick closed the game with two scoreless innings of relief.
But all anyone was talking about after the five-inning mercy rule victory was the Eagles’ offense that collected 14 hits, including 10 in the third inning.
“In a game like that, you just want to get through it and make sure no one gets hurt,” Eagles coach Brian Driskell said after his team improved to 7-3 and 3-0 in its first season of Suburban Conference baseball.
“We talked about playing smart, because we have some big games coming up this week. We were able to get some new guys (pinch hitting) in there and used Max and Josh on the mound, and they both did a great job.”
Leadoff man Mason Rogers walked, had an RBI single and scored twice in the third inning, and Seth Dankenbring followed with a single, was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and scored a run.
Kilpatrick had two doubles, scored twice and drove home two runs from his No. 3 slot, and cleanup man Caden Matlon added two singles, two runs scored and an RBI.
No. 5 hitter Trent Flake had a single, walk and scored twice, and Chapman helped his own cause with a single, walk and two runs scored.
Cole Keller had an RBI single, a walk and a run scored and Parker Bosserman hit a line drive out to the Griffins shortstop and was hit with the bases loaded for an RBI.
No. 9 hitter Christian Lynn singled and scored a run.
“It was one of those innings where you couldn’t wait to get up and see what you could do at the plate,” Matlon said. “I’d been struggling a little bit this season at the plate, but I saw the ball good today – everyone saw the ball good today.”
Chapman was pleased with the team’s all-around performance.
“We can hit the ball and we showed that in the third inning,” Chapman said. “But you can’t anticipate a spread rule game. It was a close game for two innings and I pitched like it was a close game while I was in there.
“Then Josh came in and got the job done on the mound, and our offense took care of the rest.”
Like his teammates, Kilpatrick was thrilled with the outcome and marveled at the explosive third inning.
“I’ve struggled a little, but we were all hitting the ball in the third inning,” Kilpatrick said. “And it was nice to get on the mound in a game situation and work on some things because we have some big games later this week.”
Kilpatrick and Matlon finished with three hits and three RBIs, while Kilpatrick scored three times and Matlon twice; Chapman and Flake collected two hits each. Flake reached base four times on two hits, a walk, getting hit by a pitch and he scored three runs.