The top-seeded Lee’s Summit Outlaws have been a study of contrasting performances – with the same results – in the double-elimination American Legion Zone 2 Tournament.
In their opening game, the Outlaws claimed a 10-0, mercy-rule victory over Independence Post 21 Wednesday.
They picked up another victory Thursday, but had to work a bit harder to get past Blue Springs Post 499 Fike. The Outlaws scored two runs in the top of the first inning, but had to go 10 innings to claim a 3-2 victory in a winners’ bracket semifinal at Hidden Valley Park.
The Outlaws will play the Sedalia Post 642 Travelers at 7 p.m. today in the winners’ bracket final, while Fike will take on Warrensburg Post 131, a 6-5 winner over Springfield Hillcrest in an elimination game, at 4 p.m. in an elimination game.
Winning pitcher Jeremy Root opened the top of the 10th by reaching first base on an error by Fike shortstop Christian Lynn, who has been a defensive standout for Fike in the tournament. Root then stole second base and went to third on a wild pitch by reliever Hayden Engman.
Lee’s Summit’s Wyatt Urzendowski then hit a long fly ball to right field, as Root scored with ease on the sacrifice.
That set the stage for Outlaws closer Michael Callia Jr., who retired the top of the Fike batting order to help Lee’s Summit improve to 26-8.
“I just wanted to throw strikes and get the game over,” said Callia, who has been the Outlaws’ closer all season. “This was one of those games that seemed like it was going to go on forever, and I’m glad we were able to find a way to win it.”
Root, who pitched two scoreless innings of relief to pick up the victory, said the Outlaws had to make the most out Fike’s opening error to start the 10th inning.
“Sometimes you earn a victory and sometimes it is given to you,” said Root, who had a single, scored two runs and added an RBI double. “We had great pitching, but like so many of our games this season, we scored early, then didn’t score much the rest of the game.
“When I got on base on that error, I knew we had to find a way to score the go-ahead run and we were able to do it.”
Urzendowski said he was just trying to put the ball in play with the potential winning run on third base.
“I just wanted to make contact and hit the ball hard,” he said. “They had a batter get on base in the bottom of the ninth on an error, and then we turned a double play.
“I wanted to hit the ball in the outfield to score the run. I sure didn’t want to hit into a double play. I guess it all worked out pretty well for us.”
The Outlaws took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first off Fike starter Tyler Slinkard, who settled down and allowed just those two runs over seven innings.
Root hit an RBI double and Zane Ragland drove Root home with an RBI single.
Fike (18-14) tied the score at 2-all in the bottom of the fifth on Aaron Jones’ sacrifice fly and Easton Harmsen’s RBI single.
The score remained tied until the Outlaws pushed the unearned run across in the top of the 10th inning.
“I’m proud of how our guys came back and tied the game after they took the 2-0 lead,” Fike manager Matt Hagerty said. “None of the guys want our season to come to an end tomorrow, so I’m expecting them to come out strong.
“Really, we played eight very good innings today. We got off to a tough start but rebounded, and I expect our players to rebound again Friday.”