Jeremy Root found himself around a baseball diamond again last spring. Not on the diamond, just around it.
“I did the scoreboard for Lee’s Summit North varsity,” Root said. “Kind of hurt having to watch and not being able to play.”
Kind of strange, too, for Root, a one-time standout baseball and basketball player at LS North. But after graduating in 2018, he left both behind when he enrolled at Central Missouri. This summer, he got a chance to reacquaint himself with baseball thanks to the Lee’s Summit Outlaws.
Shaking off a year’s worth of rust took a while, but Root is back to swinging a bat like he did during his previous stint with the Outlaws. When the Outlaws crushed the Rod’s Sports A’s 12-3 in the first game of an American Legion Zone 2 doubleheader Wednesday night at Hidden Valley Park, Root went 3-for-4 with four RBIs.
Lee’s Summit swept the doubleheader after rolling to a 10-0 mercy-rule, six-inning win in Game 2.
“Not playing in the spring I started off really slow,” Root said. “I was like 0-for-10. But eventually I found my groove and now we’re back.”
Root, who is transferring to Northwest Missouri State after commuting to Central Missouri last year, hadn’t played any competitive ball since his last summer with the Outlaws. A first baseman/pitcher, he missed a couple of weeks on mound time due to a muscle problem in the back of his thigh. His first trip to the plate didn’t go so well either.
But Root now finds himself batting .310 for the season with five doubles and a home run. And that’s even after struggling to swing the lumber in last week’s American Legion Wood Bat Invitational.
“He’s doing well,” Outlaws manager Mark Bradford said. “He’s picked it right back up. Actually he struggled in the Wood Bat tournament. He started getting it together in the last game there and he swung it well tonight.”
Root’s night began with an RBI-single that started a five-run first inning. Wyatt Urzendowski crushed a two-run double and Zane Ragland singled home another run for the Outlaws, who also took advantage of two walks and an A’s error.
“We’ve had a tendency this year to score runs early, but we’ve also had a tendency to give them right back,” Bradford said. “Tonight we only gave one back. It was nice to come out and get a good start.”
The A’s got one run back in the bottom of the first on singles by Cade Bissell and Christian Garcia, but the Outlaws scored three more in the second, two of them on a double from Ben Kobel, for an 8-1 lead.
Another run in the third and Root’s two-run single in the fifth put the Outlaws up 11-1, and the A’s avoided getting run-ruled when Colter Nelson singled home two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Root doubled home the Outlaws’ final run in the seventh.
Not getting run-ruled was about the only positive for the A’s, who committed five errors and had three pitchers combine to surrender 12 hits and six walks.
“They came to play and we didn’t,” A’s manager Tom Bush said. “They wanted to be here and we didn’t. Once we get behind it seems like we just quit.”
In Game 2, Root kept swinging a hot bat, going 4-for-4 with a double and three runs scored to help his team capture another blowout win. Ragland was 2-for-3 with a double, two runs and three RBIs; T.J. Nichols was 2-for-4 with two RBIs; Justin Hopson was 2-for-4 with a triple, a double, one run and an RBI; and Trevor Key went 2-for-3 with a triple, two runs scored and an RBI.
Carter Bradford picked up the win by tossing four shutout innings, allowing just four hits, four walks and striking out three.