When Lucas Williams picked off an Oak Grove base runner at second base with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Grain Valley closer thought his job was done.

When Lucas Williams picked off an Oak Grove base runner at second base with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Grain Valley closer thought his job was done.

The lanky right-hander soon found out that he would need to throw one more big strike to secure the Eagles’ 5-3 win Tuesday afternoon at Webb Park in Oak Grove.

“I’ve never walked through a line, congratulated the other team, and then been told to go back out on the mound,” said Williams, who was called for a balk by the same infield umpire who ruled the runner at second had been picked off.

After a lengthy discussion with Grain Valley coach Mark Lyford following the call, Oak Grove had a run and runners on second and third base.

Lucas returned to the mound and struck out Conner Matson to end the game.

“I never really lost my concentration,” said Williams, who had a 3-2 count on Matson. “In fact, having to go back out, after I thought I picked off the runner at second, made me concentrate even more.”
Ironically, it was the second controversial balk call of the game.

“Just when you think you’ve seen everything,” Lyford said after his Eagles evened their record at 1-1.
“The home plate umpire overturned a balk he called on (reliever Zach) Zurbrick, because I went out and explained that he was going to first and didn’t need to come set unless he’s throwing to the plate,” Lyford explained.

“Then, in the bottom of the seventh, the same umpire who called the Oak Grove base runner out, decides Lucas balked. We’re going through the line shaking hands with the Oak Grove team – I’ve never seen anything like it.

“But Lucas is a senior, and he throws strikes and it didn’t seem to bother him.”

Lost in all the controversy was a solid start by Grain Valley’s Tim Collins, who allowed one earned run and struck out seven in five solid innings.

“Tim had a rough inning in a loss against Rockhurst Saturday,” Lyford said, “so it was great to see him come out and pitch like he did today. He was a little keyed up in the first inning, but once he settled down he pitched well.”

The 1-1 Panthers pushed across a run in the bottom of the first on an Eric Gant single, a stolen base, wild pitch and throwing error by catcher Dylan Simpson.

“I play with all those guys on my summer league team, so this game was for bragging rights,” Collins said, grinning. “I was pretty amped up the first inning, but once I settled down I was fine.”

The Eagles took a 2-1 lead they never relinquished in the top of the second on a single by Zurbrick and a double by Williams. Collins followed with an RBI single and Simpson added an infield single to score the second run.

Williams had an RBI single in the third and Dylan Farrell drove home two runs with a double in the fourth.

“We lost, but we know we didn’t play very well, and despite not playing well, we were still in the game,” Gant said. “They’re our big rival and we’ll see them again this spring. You have to give credit to their pitchers, they made the pitches when they needed to.”