High school baseball: Truman escapes seventh to down Fort Osage

By Cody Thorn
Special to The Examiner

Dawson Torpey was brought into a situation he wasn’t familiar with in the final inning.

Truman coach Corey Lathrom summoned the usual starting pitcher to throw the seventh inning Friday, and the junior closed out a 3-1 victory over Fort Osage in a Suburban Middle Six Conference game.

The right-hander did provide some theatrics in his one-inning outing, leaving the bases loaded to earn his first save in his first attempt.

“I was just excited to compete, and I just wanted to help my team win,” Torpey said. “I have been struggling to find the strike zone (in starts) but I was able to today and it felt good.”

The top of the seventh had an inauspicious start for the Indians when Nathan Oakes reached on an error and went to second base on a passed ball, but Torpey got a pop-up for the first out.

Truman (7-10, 2-2) was two outs away from a win but the Indians (6-11, 3-1) loaded the bases. Blake Williams reached on an infield single, and Zachary Tillman drew a walk on four straight pitches.

With the go-ahead run on base, Torpey buckled down and ended the game. On a full count, he got Nick Tinoco looking at strike three. On the third pitch of the at-bat against Greg Menne, Torpey got a ground ball to shortstop Kayne Braxton for a force out at second to end it.

“That is the second night in a row with a chance to win or tie it with less than two outs, and we didn’t find a way to do that,” Fort Osage coach Todd Bissell said, referencing an 8-7 loss to Excelsior Springs on Thursday. “We are looking for someone to step up, and we haven’t gotten it the last couple of games. A hit here or there and we could’ve changed it.

“Truman starter (Brandon Lindle) threw a heck of a game and I found out after the game he is only a freshman … not good for the future; he kept us off balance. We ended up striking out 12 times. You are making it easy when you don’t put the ball in play and give yourself an opportunity.”

On each of the final two outs, Torpey went to a sinking fastball as his go-to pitch. He noted he used a slightly different grip and the ball seemed to have a bigger drop with the air pressure changing as a storm moved into the area in the final innings.

“The pitch moved a lot in the (bullpen), and it was very effective,” Torpey said.

Added Lathrom: “We are trying to shake things up and (Dawson) did make it exciting, but he got out of it."

The win made the Patriots 3-0 this year against Independence schools with wins against William Chrisman and Van Horn. 

Truman scored all of its runs in the first two innings.

Toby Bingham led off with a single in the bottom of the first inning, and with two outs cleanup hitter Bryce Greenwalt doubled on a 1-2 pitch to make it 1-0.

Truman made it 3-0 in the second inning scoring without an RBI hit. Dane Blankenship singled and Torpey followed with a base hit to put runners on the corner.

Torpey swiped second base, and the throw down to second base went into the outfield as Blankenship scored. A wild pitch moved Torpey over to third base, and then he scored on Randy Ayala’s ground ball to shortstop.

The Patriots loaded the bases in the fourth inning but came up empty as Oakes got a strikeout to end the threat. Truman finished with only four hits but did so with a makeshift lineup that is missing four starters – two to injuries and two by COVID-19 quarantine.

Lindle was cruising early – striking out six of the first nine – but lost his shutout in the fifth inning. He finished with 12 strikeouts in the victory.

Chase Stumpfall opened the frame by drawing a walk for Fort Osage, stole second base and scored on Oakes’ single to left field.

The Indians stranded two that inning and then two more in the sixth inning.

“Brandon Lindle threw very well for us again and got out of a couple of jams,” Lathrom said of his left-handed starter. “I’m really impressed with his competitiveness.”