For a few seconds Monday, Fort Osage sophomore Chad Sutton morphed from starting shortstop to running back on the base paths.

For a few seconds Monday, Fort Osage sophomore Chad Sutton morphed from starting shortstop to running back on the base paths.

Sutton sent the Indians to a desperately needed 7-6 Suburban Middle Seven Conference victory over Park Hill South with his RBI single in the eighth inning at Fort Osage High School. As soon as Alex Merithew crossed with the winning run, the Fort dugout emptied and chased Sutton around second base. Sutton dodged Ryan Stick – an all-conference linebacker for Fort’s football team – before being speared to the ground by Luke Crabb.

Sutton came up limping thanks to an errant cleat that caught him on the leg, but that couldn’t dampen the mood after the Indians snapped a three-game losing streak.

“(Stick’s) known for hitting hard, so I was happy I got away from him,” Sutton said. “But I got taken down. I was happy about it. Even though it hurt a little bit, it was worth it.”
“He’s a tough kid,” Crabb added with a smirk. “He’ll be all right.”

Sutton, who finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs, ended up the hero, but only after committing a crucial error in the top of the eighth. With one out and a runner on second, Sutton botched a grounder which preceded a three-run Panther rally.

“I felt like it was my responsibility to get it back,” Sutton said.

The Indians (8-10, 5-3 conference) led off the eighth with consecutive singles from Stick and Ryan Toliver and Crabb followed with a two-run single to make the score 6-5. Merithew then drew a walk and Hayden Baumgartner advanced the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt.

Chance Divers then executed a clutch suicide squeeze with a bunt placed down the first-base line that tied the score.

“People think bunting’s the easiest thing,” Fort Osage coach Chris Walker said. “But when everybody in the ballpark knows it’s coming and you’ve got that guy coming down third, that’s pretty tough to do.”

South (5-13, 4-4) elected to intentionally walk Drew Standifer and Austin Atterbury setting up Sutton’s walk-off redemption.

Sutton was hardly the only Indian to falter in the field as Fort finished with seven errors, nearly spoiling an efficient start from junior Derek Pike, who worked all eight innings to earn the win and entered the eighth having thrown only 63 pitches.

“Pike loves this team and he’s always battling,” Sutton said. “He wants to win. That’s one thing I’ve seen, there’s a different confidence in Pike from last year to this year. He wants to go out there and he wants to compete, and it’s really cool to watch.”

The defensive blunders weren’t lost on Walker, especially after similar mistakes haunted the Indians during their 0-3 appearance in last week’s Northland Tournament.

But for a team that’s taken four one-run defeats this season, Monday’s finish was exactly what was needed.

“I just told them Tuesday we’ll come in here and get back to work and try to clean some things up,” Walker said. “But hey, enjoy it for today because they definitely deserved it. They’ve had their fair share of heartbreak this year.”