Chieftains snap losing streak with 10-3 rout against Perry
The long ball helped snap a lengthy losing streak Thursday for the Tonganoxie baseball team.
Junior Kirk Rodell connected on a pitch that sailed over the left-field fence with two men on and helped the Chieftains to an early 3-0 lead.
Tonganoxie scored again in the second and would need no more. THS led 6-0 after two before Perry-Lecompton scored in the fourth and fifth innings. But the Chieftains answered and eventually won, 10-3, breaking a 15-game losing streak this spring. The victory also gave Andy Gilner his first win as Tonganoxie's head coach.
"They finally put things together," Gilner said.
The Chieftains produced again in the second thanks to another Rodell hit. After Derek Sparks reached base after being hit by a pitch -- one of four in the game by Perry-Lecompton pitchers -- Daniel Volk poked a base hit.
Rodell then brought Sparks in with another single and the Chieftains had a 4-0 lead. With runners at first and second, Kelton Starcher hit an infield dribbler to PLHS thirdbaseman Derik Blosser. The senior tried to tag Rodell, who was attempting to advance to third. Rodell, however, avoided the tag and Blosser then threw to second, but couldn't get the force-out. As Perry-Lecompton players questioned the call, Rodell sneaked home from third and a throw from second to home was late. The score put Tonganoxie up, 6-0.
The win came after the Chieftains let the first game slip away.
But as the dreary day moved on, Tonganoxie came back from the tough loss and managed its best offensive output of the year.
"There was a bit of a letdown, I'd say, but we had three runs in the bottom of the first in the second game," said Sparks, who hit doubles in both games and had three RBI in the second game. "That picked our confidence up in the first."
Sparks was a major contributor in the second game. He jumped on pitchers earlier in the count and was was on base in each of Tonganoxie's big innings.
"Generally I take the first pitch to see what the kid's got," Sparks said. "But after the first game, Gilner told me to jump on the first pitch."
Sparks also jumped on a pitch with his glove, leaping to snag a hard hit at shortstop.
"I get lucky sometimes," Sparks said with a grin.
Although the Chieftains didn't earn the sweep, they did hit home runs in both games. Along with Rodell's three-run dinger, Cooper hit a shot to right field in the first game.
"I wasn't even expecting it," Cooper said. "I did all the fundamentals right."
Lansing 3-4, Tonganoxie 1-3
Tonganoxie tangled with No. 5 Lansing on Monday and nearly toppled the state-ranked opponent.
After dropping the first game, 4-1, the Chieftains responded in game 2. THS led, 3-1, in the sixth when Tonganoxie gave up a homer to a Lansing batter, although it came after a controversial sequence.
As the runner came home, his teammates waited to congratulate him, but one teammate touched the runner before he came home. A runner can't be interfered with by a teammate, but the umpire stood by the call and the game went into extra innings.
Despite the call, Gilner said the second game still was exciting.
"It was a good high school game," he said. "They made some really terrific plays and we made some terrific plays. I guess it wasn't to be again."
Tonganoxie had chances in both games to register victories. The Chieftains stranded nine baserunners in each game.
"When we get runners on base, we've got to get our runners home," Gilner said.
THS concludes the regular season Thursday in Tonganoxie with a doubleheader against De Soto.
Ottawa 7, Tonganoxie 3
Ottawa 100 203 1 -- 7 7 1
Tonganoxie 001 200 0 -- 3 2 4
Ottawa 11, Tonganoxie 0
Ottawa 217 100 0 -- 11 9 1
Tonganoxie 000 000 0 -- 0 4 4
Lansing 3, Tonganoxie 1
Tonganoxie 010 000 0 -- 1 8 3
Lansing 210 010 x -- 4 6 1
Lansing 4, Tonganoxie 3, 11 innings
Tonganoxie 100 200 000 00 -- 3 6 4
Lansing 010 002 000 01 -- 4 4 2