In a tightly-contested game against St. Joseph Post 11, the Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s had to find a way to score in the top of the eighth inning.
The A’s had runners at the corners with two outs with the game tied at 3-all. Calib Martin went to steal second base and that drew a throw from catcher Jakob Bush. That’s when Sam Carlson, who was on third, broke for home. The throw got away from a Post 11 infielder as Carlson crossed home for the go-ahead run. Martin later scored on another double steals as Blue Springs gutted out a 5-3 eight-inning win Friday at Hidden Valley Park in ts final pool play game in the American Legion Wood Bat Invitational.
“We do that play a lot and it does work,” Carlson said of the double steal. “All the time pretty much. I love doing that play.”
The A’s came into Friday with a 1-2 record in the tournament, so even though they won, they did not advance to the quarterfinals.
Rod’s Sports led 3-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning and Christian Garcia came in to try and nail down the save. He gave up a leadoff single to Trevor Mull, who later scored on a sacrifice play from Virgil Streck. After his team got the lead in the eighth, Garrcia buckled down and got three straight groundouts to pick up the win.
“It helped a lot getting another insurance run,” Garcia said. “I wasn’t fully sure how I would perform. But getting those two runs gave me confidence.”
The A’s were in the game the whole time because of Cam Leftwich’s gem. He tossed six innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and struck out six.
“It was pretty fortunate that I could go out and throw strikes because this was just the second time I pitched this year,” he said. “We were short on pitching and I hadn’t pitched since last year (before the Warrensburg game).
Leftwich, who is normally a catcher, only pitched one other time this season. He tossed two innings in relief during a game against Warrensburg Post 131. Despite being a little rusty, he put together a great performance.
A’s manager Tom Bush was especially appreciative of Leftwich’s effort.
“It was a good time to (start him) because we didn’t have a doubleheader today.” Bush said. “We found out we have another pitcher if we really need it.”
Said Leftwich: “He’s known I can pitch, but when you catch, it’s hard to pitch. He told me this morning that I was probably going to have to start today since we’re low on pitching. And I said, ‘All right.’”
The A’s (18-9) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Colter Nelson drilled an RBI double to left field and later scored on Garcia’s groundout.
St. Joseph tied it after Caine Huffman had an RBI double in the bottom of the second and Streck had a sacrifice fly in the third. Blue Springs took the lead in the seventh when Jake Reed walked and later scored on a wild pitch from reliever Jacob Ball.
Even though Post 11 tied it in the bottom half of the seventh, Rod’s Sports still figured out a way to end pool play with a victory.
“This was a great game for both teams,” Bush said. “Even if we would have lost, I still would have felt good about it because of the way we played. The whole game, everyone contributed.”