Monday, December 22, 2014

Ottawa, OZ rivalry still alive

By GREG MAST, Herald Sports Editor | 7/1/2013

The Ottawa American Legion baseball team came into Saturday on the heels of its best stretch of baseball of the season.

Ottawa had won five straight games, scoring in double figures in all of them.

The Ottawa American Legion baseball team came into Saturday on the heels of its best stretch of baseball of the season.

Ottawa had won five straight games, scoring in double figures in all of them.

Ottawa had a relapse to the previous Saturday when things unraveled in the first game of a doubleheader, but rebounded for a second game win.

It turned out to be the same scenario Saturday at Ottawa University’s Alumni Field against Osawatomie.

The Raiders’ Austin Chisam tossed a four-hitter in the opener to spearhead Osawatomie to a 4-0 victory. Ottawa committed five errors.

Ottawa’s bats did not wake up until the fifth inning of the nightcap when the home squad was behind 6-1. Ottawa rallied twice from five-run deficits to force extra innings and won the game 11-10 in nine innings.

“Once we got down [in the second game], we relaxed a little bit,” Ottawa shortstop Turner Roth said. “We got back to playing baseball and did not worry about it. We had a lot of mental errors.”

Ottawa coach Shawn Herrmann said Ottawa keeps making a lot of the same mistakes over and over.

“It bothers me,” he said. “It took awhile to get going. We had lazy swings at times. Our hands looked slow.”

Ottawa had trouble in all facets of the game in the opener, except for Nathan Roth’s pitching. He made big pitches to keep the score from being worse.

“We pitched pretty well,” Herrmann said. “We have to put all three parts of the game together. We had two out of the three.”

Turner Roth said the fielding and throwing errors coupled with the lack of offense made it nearly impossible to compete in the opener.

“The errors were huge,” he said. “They were the catalyst to Osawatomie scoring. Nathan did a great job. We did not back him up.”

Ottawa played much better in the nightcap, cutting down on the errors, but the bats were silent until the fifth inning. Ottawa was held to one hit, an RBI double by Bryce Elder in the second inning.

Ottawa broke through for four runs on three hits to climb within 6-5.

Osawatomie regained the momentum with four runs in the sixth to open a 10-5 lead. Dustin Ohlmeier emptied the bases with a three-run triple.

“We came out the next inning and we were too relaxed,” Turner Roth said.

Ottawa was down to its final out in the bottom of the seventh inning when things began to turn. Ottawa scored four runs to tie the game at 10-10. Dayne Jung ripped a two-run double. Tate Jung had an RBI single.

“There were some hard hit balls at that time,” Herrmann said. “Dayne’s hit was huge. That was more our type of baseball.”

Connor Stepp held Osawatomie in check the final three frames. He was coming off a sub-par outing earlier in the week.

“He kept the ball down,” Herrmann said.

Ottawa loaded the bases in the ninth on a single, an error and a walk. Tate Jung, who singled, scored the winning run as Hayden Yancey was hit by a pitch.

It was another classic game in the storied rivalry between Ottawa and Osawatomie.

“You hear the stories passed on [from past years],” Turner Roth said. “It is instinct to want to beat them. We are not too far away from each other.”

The Legion veteran said the rally showed Ottawa can turn things around even if things are not going their way.

“That was an example that games are seven innings,” he said. “We know what we can do if we get in that situation again.”

Ottawa (15-6, 7-3) plays 6 p.m. today at Burlington. Ottawa plays Friday through Sunday in the Kansas Grand Slam Tournament in Salina.

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