Blue Springs Post 499 Fike pitcher Tyler Slinkard said he’s having the best season of his American Legion baseball career.
He showed why Tuesday against the Zone 2 rival Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s. He kept the A’s off balance, allowing two unearned runs on one hit and struck out three in five innings to earn the win during a 4-2 victory in the first game of a doubleheader at Hidden Valley Park.
Fike completed the sweep with a 17-2 mercy rule win in Game 2.
“I think I was a little off at the start of the game,” Slinkard said. “But once the game got going, I got my curveball to work more and got them to swing at it.
“I’ve gotten more comfortable over the years while playing for Fike. That helped me a lot to pitch all of my pitches and stay in the game. This is the best year I’ve had. Hopefully, (my season) will end well, too.”
Slinkard threw all hit pitches for strikes and only gave up two runs in the fifth inning after his infield committed three errors. One run scored on a throwing error on a ground ball from Devin Donovan and another on an RBI single from Cade Bissell.
“You’re not going to win very many games only getting three hits,” A’s manager Tom Bush said. “We have to give (Slinkard) credit. He changed his speeds well and kept us off balance. His pitches were around the plate. He’s a true pitcher.”
Fike manager Matt Hagerty agreed.
“He’s pitched well for us all year,” he said of Slinkerd. “He was more effective with his fastball against the A’s than he was the first game. He did a good job mixing it up and throwing the curveball for strikes.”
Luckily for Slinkard, his team spotted him four runs before two scored for Rod’s Sports. Tommy Mortallaro led off the bottom of the second inning with an infield single and later scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Aaron Jones. Nathan Fine, who walked, scored on a wild pitch to give Fike a 2-0 lead.
Post 499 (12-8) added two more in the third on an infield error that allowed Christian Lynn to score and a wild pitch allowed pinch runner Harrison Lang to cross home.
That’s all the runs Fike needed.
“We did just enough, and that’s typical for us,” Hagerty said. “We are going to play small ball and get one or two runs in an inning. We aren’t going to slam people. We’re effective and we can handle the bat.”
Easton Harmsen fired two scoreless innings to close it out for Fike, allowing just a double and striking out two batters for the save.
“I felt good out there. My off-speed (pitches) were working and needed that to keep them off my fastball,” Harmsen said. “I got a lot of weak contact.”
In Game 2, Fike took advantage of six A’s errors ro run away with a five-inning victory.
Fine picked up the win as he allowed just two runs on four hits and struck out seven in four innings for the win. Andrew Asinger pitched a scoreless fifth inning to finish the game for Post 499.
Deryk Carey led Fike by going 4-for-4 with a double, three runs and four RBIs. Harrison Lang was 3-for-4 with one run and three RBIs, Johnny Miles was 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, Christian Lynn was 3-for-5 with four runs and an RBI, and Harnsen was 3-for-5 with three runs and an RBI.
Leading 6-1, Fike scored eight runs in the third inning and three more in the fourth to pull away.
Kalib Martin took the loss for the A’s (13-7). Cade Bissell led the A’s with two hits, a run and an RBI, and Christian Garcia doubled with an RBI.