Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ottawa Legion AA Stepps past Paola

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 7/23/2014

POMONA — Ottawa Legion AA pitcher Connor Stepp was kicking himself for not getting the out at third base. All had to do was catch the ball and apply the tag, but it glanced off the tip of his glove.

Paola had the tying run at third base in the top of the seventh inning with one out. Ottawa coach Shawn Herrmann came to the mound to settle everyone down and give Stepp a break.

POMONA — Ottawa Legion AA pitcher Connor Stepp was kicking himself for not getting the out at third base. All had to do was catch the ball and apply the tag, but it glanced off the tip of his glove.

Paola had the tying run at third base in the top of the seventh inning with one out. Ottawa coach Shawn Herrmann came to the mound to settle everyone down and give Stepp a break.

“I saw him breathing hard and wanted to give him a break,” he said.

Stepp regrouped and bore down on the Paola hitters. He took the game into his hands and ended the contest with two strikeouts.

Ottawa held off Paola, 4-3, Tuesday in the first round of the American Legion AA Zone 6 Tournament in Pomona.

Ottawa (22-10) plays 8 p.m. today against the winner of Wednesday’s game between top-seeded Iola and Wellsville.

“They put some pressure on us,” Stepp said about the seventh inning. “They got the guy at third ... I made that error and I had to makeup for it.

“He had been successful the last couple of times. I was not going to give him anything good to hit. I battled through it. It is a lot easier with two outs. Dayne [Jung] and I was trying to hit the outside corner.”

Stepp kept the ball low and on the outside part of the plate.

“He did not throw hard, but he hit his spots and kept the ball down,” Herrmann said. “He made big pitches. He had him set up and went farther away. The cutter he throws was pretty tough when it goes a way from you.”

Stepp stepped in for starter Nathan Roth, who rolled his ankle running the bases. Roth went three innings.

“It was a setback having Nathan go down early,” Stepp said. “We wanted to pick him up and get this first game.”

Stepp tossed four shutout innings, giving up three hits.

Ottawa set the tone from the start it was going after Paola.

“I have been preaching from high school that we need to be the aggressors,” Herrmann said. “Right from the start, Nathan was the aggressor on the mound. Hitters came out aggressive in the first inning and set the tone right away.”

Ottawa had four hits and plated two runs in the first inning.

“Jordan [Morton] sets the tone every single game,” Stepp said. “He’s a guy you can count on to get on base and steal bases. It is a domino effect. Nathan and Tate [Jung] got a big hit. We fed off it.”

Ottawa scored two runs in bottom of third inning to take a one-run lead. Dayne Jung and Alex Stepp had RBIs.

Neither team scored in the final four innings.

“A lot of hard hit balls by them, but they were right at us,” Herrmann said. “We had a couple of errors, but it never got to be that big inning. We gave them one or two runs and it stopped after that.

“The baseball Gods loved us.”

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