Easton Harmsen put it on cruise control on the mound and Johnny Miles got the job done twice at the plate with the bases loaded.
The result for Blue Springs Post 499 Fike was an easier-than-anticipated 9-0, five-inning mercy rule victory over the Trenton (Mo.) Post 31 Blue Jays Thursday night at Hidden Valley Park in its first pool play game in the American Legion Wood Bat Invitational.
Harmsen and Trenton starter Sam Shilling were involved in a pitchers’ duel for three innings as Fike held a 1-0 lead without the benefit of a hit.
But that changed in an explosive eight-run fourth inning as Fike sent 11 batters to the plate, cranked out eight hits and made life easy for Harmsen, who finished the game with five strikeouts while allowing just two hits.
“We can be an explosive team; we showed that in the fourth inning,” Harmsen said. “I really wasn’t surprised when we scored those eight runs because we’ve scored a lot of runs this season.
“I knew if I did my job out on the mound, the guys would take care of me offensively.”
Miles gave Fike a 1-0 lead in the second inning when he drove home Deryk Carey on an infield groundout to second base with the bases loaded.
The next time the Fike second baseman came up to bat with the bases full, he drove home two runs with a line drive single. He finished the night with a team-high three RBIs.
“With the bases loaded, I was looking fastball each time up, and that’s what I got,” Miles said. “When we got the 1-0 lead in the second, we were all confident the way Easton was pitching.
“We really felt good after the eight-run fourth inning. In pool play, winning your first game in huge. Winning 9-0 is even bigger.”
Should there be a tie in pool play, the first tiebreaker is the number of runs allowed. The second is the number of runs scored.
Tommy Mortallaro and Caden Rardon each had two singles and scored two runs in the big fourth inning. Aaron Jones added a two-run triple and Harmsen helped his own cause with an RBI double.
“We really played well tonight,” Fike manager Matt Hagerty said. “It’s a nice, quiet game for three innings, then boom! We just exploded in the fourth inning. Easton did a great job with his curve, using it to set up his fastball. He did it all night.”
Harmsen said every pitch in his arsenal was working against Trenton.
“I was throwing a lot of strikes and getting my curve and offspeed stuff over, and I think that really set them up for my fastball,” Harmsen said. “It was just a great way to start the tournament.”
Fike played their second game late Thursday night against Overland (Mo.) Post 338.