Friday, October 31, 2014

Close shaves for Legion AA in tournament

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 6/9/2014

Ottawa Legion AA coach Shawn Herrmann expects to play many games like Sunday’s in the Jim Allen Wood Bat Memorial Tournament in Ottawa.

Ottawa had two nail-biters and one that ended after 12 innings of a scheduled seven-inning affair.

Ottawa Legion AA coach Shawn Herrmann expects to play many games like Sunday’s in the Jim Allen Wood Bat Memorial Tournament in Ottawa.

Ottawa had two nail-biters and one that ended after 12 innings of a scheduled seven-inning affair.

Ottawa lost 3-1 to Iola, the two-time defending state Legion AA champions, and nipped Silver Lake, 6-5 in 12 innings.

Ottawa rallied with four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to force extra innings against Silver Lake.

“It is nice to see them come back and win,” Herrmann said. “We can’t play flat. When we were in the game, we were aggressive at the plate, aggressive pitching. We linked hits together. It proves how we can play. I always like to be the aggressor.”

Shortstop Tate Jung said playing extra innings is a pressure-packed situation.

“It is fun,” Jung said. “It is high-intensity. Every play is big.”

Connor Stepp delivered the game-winning hit in the 12th frame. He roped a single down the first base line with two outs.

“It is nice that Connor stepped up and got the big hit,” Jung said. “Connor always steps up for us. He is a leader.”

Herrmann liked the approach of Stepp.

“I am glad he was aggressive right off the bat,” Herrmann said. “He got a pitch he could hit. We need him to keep doing what he has been doing.

“There will be slumps and it is how you deal with it. Some guys deal with it better than others. It is a long summer.”

Ottawa’s hitting was sub-par in the tournament. Ottawa mustered four hits in the Iola loss.

“Our hitting has to be a lot better,” Herrmann said. “Our hitting, we did not make too many adjustments. That is something we have to change. We left too many guys on base. Too many lazy pop flies. It could be the change to the wood bat. We can hit better than that.”

Jung said it was tough when the hits did not come.

“I was frustrated,” he said. “I could not buy a hit. We need to string hits together.”

Herrmann saw the fight in the players as Ottawa rallied to send the game to extra frames.

“We made big plays,” he said. “Keegan’s big hit. Dayne blocking the ball. Jordan Morton pitching well. We looked excited to play. It makes a big difference.”

Keegan Finch’s RBI single with two outs in the seventh inning tied the game at 5-5.

Ottawa’s pitching was spot on throughout the tournament.

Nathan Roth tossed a three-hitter in a 7-1 win over West Franklin on Friday. Alex Stepp had a one-hitter in Ottawa’s 9-0 victory over Garnett.

Hayden Yancey handcuffed Iola for 4 2/3 innings. He made one bad pitch and gave up a three-run double.

Conner Medlen gave Ottawa a solid start against Silver Lake. Morton and Connor Stepp kept Silver Lake scoreless in the extra frames.

“Our pitching was there,” Herrmann said. “They gave us a chance to win. Our defense, we had lapses here or there. It did not hurt us.”

Ottawa (3-1) plays 4 p.m. Wednesday in a doubleheader in Leavenworth at the University of Saint Mary field.

Ottawa plays 6 p.m. Thursday at home against Burlington.

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