As efficient as Tyler Slinkerd was on the mound, Blue Springs Post 499 Fike could get away with a little inefficiency on the basepaths.
Slinkerd needed only 75 pitches Monday night to shut down the Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary Outlaws in a come-from-behind 3-2 in the first game of an American Legion Zone 2 doubleheader at Hidden Valley Park. That more than made up for the six baserunners Fike left stranded, including two of four who led off innings.
The Outlaws, who suffered their first league loss of the season in the first game, bounced back with a 5-0 win in the nightcap.
As good as Slinkerd was over seven compact innings in the first game, it didn’t really matter. Not with the Outlaws getting only two baserunners after taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
“It was his best game of the year,” Fike manager Matt Hagerty said. “Very efficient and kept them off-balance all night. They were guessing all night long what was coming next, and that’s Tyler at his best.”
Slinkerd, a right-hander who graduated last month from Plaza Heights Christian Academy in Blue Springs, admitted he was at his best as he held the Outlaws to four hits with no walks. He only struck out three, but neither of the Outlaws’ runs were earned.
“At the beginning I couldn’t get my fastball down and they started hitting it,” Slinkerd said. “So I started working on curveballs and towards the end of the game I started throwing more fastballs and they couldn’t catch up to it.”
Lee’s Summit took a 2-0 lead in the second inning, and little of it was Slinkerd’s doing. Zane Ragland led off and reached second on a dropped a fly ball. Jeremy Root followed and doubled home Ragland, and Root scored when third baseman Nate Fine mishandled a sharp grounder from Ben Kobel.
That lead didn’t last long. In the bottom of the second, Slinkerd singled home Tommy Mortallaro, who drew a leadoff walk. Slinkerd then scored on a double by Aaron Jones.
Fike got the go-ahead run in the fifth when Easton Harmsen singled and later scored on Christian Lynn’s sacrifice fly to left.
Harmsen’s single led off the fifth, the fourth straight inning Fike put the leadoff runner on base. Outlaws starter James Michael, who gave up only six hits over six innings, kept Fike from breaking out the bats, too.
“(Michael) is a good pitcher,” Slinkerd said. “We struggled at the beginning. Left runners is always a bad thing, but once we started hitting more, in the end it was good.”
Good and efficient, which is how Hagerty likes to see his team play.
“We’re a team that’s going to chip away and do a little bit at a time,” Hagerty said.
In the nightcap, Trevor Key, TJ Nichols and Kobel led the way while three pitchers combined for a two-hit shutout as the Outlaws improved to 15-6 overall and 7-1 in Zone 2 play.
Key had two doubles and two RBIs, Nichols hit three doubles and drove in a run and Kobel two hits and an RBI. The Outlaws scored two in the second, one in the third and two in the fourth.
Nichols also earned the victory on the mound, throwing four innings in relief of starter Blake Marnholtz. Nichols allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out four. Justin Hopson, who also had a hit and an RBI, finished off the shutout with a scoreless seventh inning.
Fine suffered the loss for Fike (9-8, 7-3 Zone 2) despite allowing just one earned run (three total) in three innings.