Six fly balls in the fifth inning, including a bases clearing triple by Tyler Abney, helped the Rick Ball Ford Juniors score six runs and beat Rock Bridge 13-2 in five innings Saturday in the Wood Bat Tournament at Dey Field at Liberty Park.
Two groundouts started the fifth inning for the Juniors, but Kaleb Bishop, Connor Spunaugle and Connar Harms all singled with fly balls to right field before Abney tripled to the gap in left to give the Juniors a 10-2 lead.
“Abney likes the wood bat,” said Juniors coach Brent Hodge. “That was a big hit. He put a charge into that ball.”
Chase Hagle then sent a fly ball to right field and went to second base on a fielding error. Mason Sanders then hit a grounder to left for a single and Derek Bivins doubled over the centerfielder’s head to drive in Hagle and Sanders to cap off the six-run inning and give the Juniors a 13-2 lead.
“Great approaches,” Hodge said. “All but one of the hits were to the opposite field and that’s just guys knowing the position they’re in. With wood bats, if they start yanking stuff it’s not going anywhere.”
Corbin Mertgen allowed a double and walked the second batter in the bottom of the fifth but got the next three batters to ground out, strike out and fly out to end the game in five innings.
Mertgen pitched all five innings, allowing no earned runs, two hits and striking out seven. He walked three.
“He’s come along in the second half of the season,” Hodge said. “Velocity-wise and he’s finding his location. He’s done nothing but improve.”
The Juniors used some errors to score early on.
Abney singled to left with runners on first and second and two outs in the second inning and Bishop was able to come on home on an error by the left fielder to make it 2-0.
Hagle then reached on an error, allowing Harms and Abney to score and make it 4-0.
Damon Montes doubled in a run in the third inning and ended up scoring on a Bishop groundout. Spunaugle reached on an error as the throw to first base bounced away from the first baseman, allowing courtesy runner Corbin Reese to score and give the Juniors a 7-0 lead.
Montes also had a solid game behind the plate, catching a runner stealing third base for the second out of the bottom of the third inning. He nearly caught another runner stealing second, but the runner snuck underneath the tag.
“He’s pretty quick behind the plate,” Hodge said. “That runner at third when he blocked and threw out, that’s text book right there.”
Rock Bridge scored both of its runs in the fourth inning, getting one home on a groundout and another on a sac fly.
Things did not go as well for Rick Ball Ford on Sunday, falling to Jefferson City 5-3 and the KC Barnstormers 8-3. In the nightcap, the Juniors spotted the Barnstormers an 8-0 lead with four runs in the second and four more in the fifth before the Juniors got on board in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch, a bases-loaded walk and a wild pitch.
The Barnstormers went 3-0 in the tournament. The Juniors finished 1-2.