Riley Bown gives Grain Valley chance to come back against Truman

Bill Althaus
The Examiner

After a sluggish, uninspiring pregame warmup, coach Corey Lathrom's Truman baseball team scored four first-inning runs to take a surprising lead over host Grain Valley Monday.

"I saw that first inning and thought, 'Maybe I was wrong,' that first inning looked pretty good after we didn't look at all inspired warming up before the game," Lathrom said.

But an infield error helped the Eagles score two unearned runs in the bottom of the first, and Grain Valley added seven runs in the third en route to a 14-4 six-inning victory over the Patriots.

"Corey's one of my best friends," Eagles coach Brian Driskell said, "and I know what's going through his mind right now. They made some physical and mental errors and we took advantage of them tonight. But I know Corey is going to get things cleaned up and turn it around over there."

Only six of the Eagles' 14 runs were earned and, actually, the biggest hit of the game came from Truman catcher Bryce Greenwalt, who smacked a bases-clearing double in that four-run first inning.

While the Eagles scored 14 runs, Driskell wanted to talk about Riley Bown, who came into the game in the top of the second and restored order by allowing just one hit and no runs over the last five innings.

"That's what Riley has done for us all year," Driskell said. "He has the lowest ERA on the team and he hasn't even started a game. He's done just what he did today – and that's come into a game and given us the opportunity to get back in the game."

Shortstop Parker Bosserman, who had an RBI triple and a two-run single in that seven-run third inning, also praised Bown.

"It's so easy to play defense behind Riley because he throws a lot of strikes and he pitches to contact, so we're always ready," Bosserman said. "When Truman scored those four runs in the first, we were like, 'Let's get out there and score some runs.' And when Riley came into the game, we knew they weren't going to score many more runs – and they didn't score a run the rest of the game."

In somewhat of an ironic twist, Bown ended the game and helped the Eagles claim that mercy rule win by singling with the bases loaded to give his team a 10-run lead and end the game on the mercy rule.

"My job is to do what I did tonight – give us the chance to win," said Bown, who struck out three while finishing with two base hits, an RBI and two runs scored at the plate. “I really like coming in, in relief. That's what I've done all season and I feel comfortable doing that.”

The win helps Grain Valley (18-7) remain perfect in the Suburban Middle Six Conference with a 7-0 record. Truman fell to 11-14 and 4-4.

Kaden Jeffries also had two hits for Grain Valley.