Fort Osage takes advantage of Truman's costly errors for win

Cody Thorn
The Examiner
Fort Osage leadoff hitter Zack Tillman, front, claps to celebrate with his teammates in the dugout after sliding into second base with a double in Wednesday's game against Truman. The Indians capitalized on the Patriots' mistakes to take a 6-3 victory.

Truman spotted Fort Osage three runs in the first inning and never recovered during a Suburban Middle Six game Wednesday at Fort Osage.

The Indians picked up a 6-3 win against the Patriots and avenged an earlier loss and did so with only one RBI that came from a base hit.

Instead, Fort Osage took advantage of some fielding issues and built a 5-0 lead after three innings.

“Outside of the first inning I felt we played fine,” Truman coach Cory Lathrom said. “Our pitcher (Anthony Locke) had to throw 17 extra pitches when we had opportunities to turn two double plays. Teams don’t win many games when you have two opportunities and don’t convert on either of them. … We have made a bad habit of not being able to overcome adversity.”

Fort Osage starting pitcher Greg Menne, right, reacts after striking out a Truman batter to end the sixth inning of Wednesday's game. Menne struck out 10 in six innings for the win in the 6-3 victory.

Zack Tillman drew a walk to open the bottom of the first and moved up on Nick Tinoco’s single. Then things went sideways for the Patriots (11-15, 4-5) as Locke got the Indians to hit back-to-back ground balls to shortstop. Each one turned into an error and each one led to a run..

Fort Osage loaded the bases after a walk by Nathan Oakes and senior Riley Christiansen provided an RBI fielder’s choice.

“We put the ball in play,” Fort Osage coach Todd Bissell said. “We had games we didn’t put the ball in play, and sometimes you put it in play and good things happen. You take advantage of the other team’s mistake and luckily we did that tonight.”

Fort Osage senior Riley Christiansen (6) slides into home plate as Truman catcher Noah Brunk prepares to make the tag in Wednesday's game at Fort Osage. Christiansen was out on the play but the Indians went on to claim a 6-3 win.

The free passes weren’t over by Truman. In the second inning, Nico Rosario drew a walk and moved up on a wild pitch. Tillman also drew a walk and an error on a pickoff attempt allowed Rosario to score from second base.

In the third inning, the Indians (9-13, 6-3) got another run – this time with two outs. Christiansen drew a walk and moved to second on a single by Michael Dieckmann, who drew the start at first base on senior night. Two passed balls followed and Christiansen trotted home to make it 5-0.

“It proves it goes to show you get the ball in play and roll with the punches,” said Christiansen, who drew two walks and had one of the team’s two RBIs.

The Patriots’ first scoring chance came in the bottom of the fourth with two runners on with one out, but Fort Osage starter Greg Menne got what his counterpart couldn’t – a 6-4-3 double play to escape damage.

Fort Osage senior Riley Christiansen rounds third while trying to score on a ball hit to the outfield in Wednesday's game against Truman. Christiansen was thrown out at home on the play but the Indians went on to claim a 6-3 win.

Truman got its first run in the top of the fifth inning when Kayne Braxton singled and moved up on an errant pickoff attempt. With two outs, Sam Scott hit an RBI single to break up the shutout.

Menne gave up one run – unearned – and struck out 10 in six innings to pick up the victory.

Locke, in his first start back after a stint on the COVID-19 quarantine list, gave up five runs but none were earned but was tagged with the loss. Scott threw the final three innings, giving up one run and striking out four.

“We are a better team than we have showed,” Lathrom said. “Our pitching has kept us in games, we just have to field it better in winning moments.”

Fort Osage’s final run came in the bottom of the fifth with two outs. The seniors, Christiansen and Dieckmann, drew back-to-back walks and Rosario singled to left field to score Nathan Oakes – who earlier singled. Truman, though, threw Christiansen out trying to score to keep the deficit at 6-1.

In the top of the seventh the Patriots got a pair of runs against reliever Evan Dixson. Braxton singled and Ben Kerby drew a walk. A strikeout followed for the second out, but Braxton stole third base and scored on a throwing error. Kerby moved up a base and scored on Scott’s RBI single. But Dixson got a strikeout to end it. 

Truman lost despite having twice as many hits than Fort Osage, 8-4.

After the game, the Indians honored three seniors – Christiansen, Dieckmann and Blake Williams, who was unable to play.

“It feels like we were just sophomores not that long ago out on the field having a blast, and now it’s like, ‘Dang, this is our last hurrah,’” Dieckmann said. “It’s a little bittersweet.”

Truman hosts Raytown on Friday, while the Indians travel to Grain Valley for league games.

Fort Osage reliever Evan Dixson reacts after striking out a Truman batter to end Wednesday's game. Dixson escaped a jam in the seventh inning to preserve a 6-3 victory.