The Smithton Storm suffered a gutting loss at home Wednesday at the expense of a Lee’s Summit Outlaws two-out rally.
With an out remaining to seal a 3-2 victory, Matt Campbell singled off Smithton starter Jake Neal. The hit started a string of six in a row for Lee’s Summit, chasing Neal and the Storm from what was nearly a complete-game gem and the game-one victory.
Eric Culp singled in the bottom of the frame, but Outlaws starter Hayden Bradford closed out the 7-3 victory in 87 pitches.
“We just can’t close,” Smithton coach Brad Angel said. “We just have to figure out how to close.”
Smithton opened the game with three hard hits. Neal doubled with one out in the first, and Culp followed with a single for his first of two RBIs. The Storm would strand the bases loaded in the first with a groundout.
Bradford retired 10 of 11 Smithton batters from the second to fifth inning. Eli Pearcy broke a streak of seven straight batters retired with a one-out single. Culp and Kenton Stover had RBIs on a single and fielder’s choice, respectively. Bradford allowed just two more hits.
Smithton Storm head coach Jeff Walsh said Lee’s Summit’s pitcher adapted when his lineup did not.
“I think the pitcher adjusted to us and we didn’t adjust to him as quickly as we needed to,” Walsh said. “We waited too long before we started hitting again. We jumped right on him in the beginning, but that’s what baseball’s about, it’s a game of adjustments.”
Walsh also praised Neal’s effort despite the loss. Neal had four strikeouts and a walk before allowing a flurry of hits. He exited after 111 pitches.
“(Neal) gave me everything he had,” Neal said. “His defense did the same, and I don’t know if we got a little lax in the last inning, but you can’t ask for anything better than that.”
The Storm have lost three straight, excluding game two of Wednesday’s doubleheader with Lee’s Summit, dropping a pair to Sedalia Rick Ball Ford 10-2 and 11-7 on Monday. Smithton travels to Chillicothe for a tournament lasting Friday through Sunday.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2