Wranglers take two over Outlaws
By SARA METTLEN, Times Sports Editor
LEAVENWORTH — A two-run home run by Josh Herrig in the three hole set the tone early for the Leavenworth Wranglers in the first game of their doubleheader with the Easton Outlaws Wednesday, the Wranglers offense producing eight runs in the top of the first on their way to a 12-9 win.
After Herrig’s blast, a single by Will Brown and a double by Drew Thomas set the table for the third run when the next two Wrangler batters, Tyler Harper and Dillon Koskey, were hit by pitches. An Outlaw error on a Chris Haney knock allowed two runs to score and left Easton with two runners on base and just one out. A walk for Charles Davis once again loaded the bases and back-to-back RBI singles by Drake Sedillo and Landon Cole continued the run for Leavenworth. A sacrifice fly by Josh Harrison capped the Wranglers’ first inning.
Easton wasn’t content to go down quietly though, gradually chipping away to make it a ball game. The Outlaws had the tying run on second base in the bottom of the fourth inning, but left two runners stranded as the closest they ever got to the Wranglers after digging the eight-run hole was a two-run deficit.
The slow and steady Easton offense put up two in the first, Jason Crook walking and Derek Warden getting on base on a fielder’s choice. Both scored on a Wranglers error.
In the top of the second, Leavenworth’s Brown picked up right where he left off in Monday’s Wranglers’ win, blasting a solo homer well beyond the leftfield fence. In the next at bat, Thomas was inches from making it two homers in a row, settling for a double when his ball hit near the top of the centerfield fence. An error left Harper get on base and Thomas score before the Outlaws took out struggling starter Levi Johnson and put Gary Flack on the mound. Haney managed an RBI base hit but Flack was able to shut down the Wranglers after that.
Seth Johnson led off the second with a walk for the Outlaws, scoring on a base hit by Donald Brown. Wranglers pitcher Tyler Harper found his groove in the second though, striking out two Easton batters in the inning.
The Outlaws held in the top of the third, leaving the score at 11-3 when they got their third chance at the plate. Jeremy and Jason Crook each walked to give Easton speed on the bases and Warden ripped a single to score both. A passed ball allowed Warden to come across to leave the Outlaws down by five.
Another scoreless inning for Leavenworth continued to let the Wranglers sneak back in, Easton scoring three more in the bottom of the fourth to make it 11-9. An error allowed Joey Phillips to get on base to start the rally and a walk by Levi Johnson put two runners on for Easton. A sacrifice fly by Jeremy Crook scored Phillips and Levi crossed on a passed ball. After knocking a single, Warden also scored on a passed ball to finish out the Outlaw’s scoring for the game. In the fourth, two more Easton runners got on base before the Wranglers brought in Ryan Lasneske to pitch, Lasneske earning a strikeout to escape the inning.
Leavenworth finally got their bats going again in the fifth, scoring one on singles by Sedillo and Herrig, Herrig earning the RBI.
The game was called after five innings due to the time limit.
The strong hitting from his boys in the last couple outings, said Wranglers coach Justin Bode, has allowed them to be successful.
“We’ve been seeing the ball real well at the plate,” Bode said. “We’re getting timely hitting from our guys.”
On the mound, Harper recorded five strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings of work and Lasneske notched two Ks in his 1 1/3 innings for Leavenworth. Easton’s Flack struck out one in 3 2/3 innings.
Flack’s outing, said Outlaw coach Jerry Barnes, was a solid one.
“We got down 8-0 there and then Gary came in and did a good job,” Barnes said. “That’s important because it’s always good to have another pitcher to put on the mound.”
The second game proved to be a back-and-forth battle, the Outlaws and Wranglers trading leads until the Wranglers were able to notch the sweep with a 13-12 win in the bottom of the fifth as the game was cut short once again due to the time limit. The Wranglers had Lasneske on third, Hadfield on second and Cole on first when Herrig stepped up to the plate and laid down a bunt to give Lasneske the time he needed to cross home plate and give Leavenworth the victory.
“We knew the time limit was coming up, we’d be warned before the inning, so it was the perfect opportunity and we went for it,” Bode said. “It was a perfect bunt and perfect execution.”
The Leavenworth offense was led by Brown who went 3-for-3 with three singles and Cole and Herrig who each went 2-for-3.
In game two, the Wranglers took the early 2-0 lead after one inning, but the Outlaws came back to tie it at 2-all after the top of the third. Leavenworth pulled away again in the bottom half of the third, taking a 4-2 lead, but Easton answered the call and posted six in the fourth to once again take over the lead. The trend continued as the Wranglers matched with a six-run inning of their own and when the Outlaws gave themselves a 12-10 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth, Leavenworth stepped to the plate and delivered three runs for the win.
Coming back from the deficit, said Bode, showed his team is maturing.
“We didn’t play as well in the second game, but we were able to come back from some deficits that we hadn’t been able to (in the past).”
From the other dugout, Barnes said it was his boys’ own mistakes that helped to cause the loss.
“It was an exciting game,” Barnes said of the night cap. “It was close all the way. We had two chances for two double plays (in the fifth to save the win) but we couldn’t get it done.
“Defensively we had a couple bobbles and that was the difference in the game.”
The Outlaw offense, paced by a pair of home runs by Phillips and one from Hupp, was pretty good in spite of the two losses, said Barnes.
“We had some good hits, we just gave up too many walks and you can’t give good teams free bases.”
The Easton boys will bounce back though, Barnes said.
“We’re falling together,” Barnes said. “We’ll forget about this and move on.”
The Outlaws next game is Friday, Easton playing a doubleheader against Tonganoxie with games at 6 and 8 p.m.
For Bode and his boys, the wins over the Outlaws were a big confidence boost.
“This is a team that beat us a lot last year,” Bode said. “It was good to battle them in two close games and get the wins.”