The Smith-Cotton baseball team loaded the bases in the first, third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings but only turned one into a big inning in a 16-9 loss Thursday at Dey Field at Liberty Park.
Lee’s Summit put plenty of men on base as well, but often brought them around to score including six in the third inning, three in the fourth and three more in the sixth.
“They got big hits in big situations and we weren’t able to get the big hits,” said Smith-Cotton coach Jud Kindle. “We had a chance in the first inning to make it a 4-0 ballgame and we weren’t able to capitalize and they come back out and with two outs hit a double in the gap to clear the bases. That’s what the game came down to.”
A.J. Paul drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the first to force home Chance McMullin but a pop-up and a strikeout ended the inning with just one run coming across. After a one-two-three second, Smith-Cotton again loaded the bases with two out in the third and Chase Plymell drew a walk to force in a run, but a flyball to center ended the threat with just one run scoring.
Int he fourth, a pair of errors and a walk loaded the bases again and Lee’s Summit went to its bullpen. The first batter to face reliever Blanton Spaar, Paul hit a flyball into the gap in left-center which seemed on track to be an extra-base hit before Lee’s Summit centerfielder Ben Burnham tracked it down, saving multiple runs and ending the inning.
In the meantime, Lee’s Summit took advantage of chances, scoring one in the first on a Spaar single to drive home Ryan Laddish. In the third, Travis Simonin hit a two-out, bases-loaded double into the gap to score three runs. An error later brought him home as the visitors scored six in the inning.
A light rain came down early in the game, causing fielding problems for both defenses and control problems for pitchers.
“It was a combination of the wetness of the mound and the slipperiness of the baseball,” Kindle said. “Both teams have to deal with that issue and that’s part of baseball some times.”
Down 12-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth, Smith-Cotton scored seven runs off of one hit. That inning comes on the heels of a five-run, no-hit inning against Warrensburg and an eight-run, one-hit inning against Lafayette last week.
“That’s an inning where they gave us those runs, we didn’t manufacture those runs,” Kindle said. “They gave us those runs off of walks and hit-by-pitches.”
Dalton Zaremba led off the inning when he reached on a dropped third strike. After walks to Plymell and Cole Simoncic, Baxter Mays hit a sharp grounder which glanced off the shortstop’s shoulder and into leftfield, scoring two runs. Walks to McMullin and Luke Archibeque followed, the second forcing in a run, and Nick Hagedorn singled to drive in Mays. After another bases-loaded walk forced home another run, Archibeque scored on a flyball to center and courtesy runner Gavin Jones came home on a wild pitch.
That inning cut the Lee’s Summit lead to 12-9, but they immediately answered with three in the top of the sixth, two of those runs coming on a double by Burnham.
Smith-Cotton again loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh on an infield single, an error and a walk, but a strikeout ended the threat and the game.
Smith-Cotton (9-4) will visit Rock Bridge on Tuesday.