One-run loss shouldn’t shake Chieftains’ confidence
A couple more hits or a few more inches of leather on their gloves and the Chieftains may have eked out a win.
But the hits weren't falling in for Tonganoxie High on Friday at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds like they were for Basehor-Linwood and the Chieftains lost their second one-run game of the season, 2-1.
It was two triples, one in the second and one in the sixth, off the bats of the Bobcats that decided the tight, well-pitched game between THS starter Logan Forbis and BLHS lefty Tyler Henley.
Both of the Bobcats' three-baggers were just out of the reach of Chieftain outfielders. In the top of the second, the Bobcats' Tyler Miles hit a one-out triple to right-center and THS center fielder Rob Schlicht dove for the ball, but was only able to get a piece of his glove on it before it landed safely for BLHS. Chris Giomi then doubled to knock in Miles.
The other triple that troubled the Chieftains (3-2) came in the top of the sixth. Again Schlicht nearly snagged the fly, which Henley hammered just over the center fielder's head. Henley eventually scored with two outs when Miles singled to right field to score the go-ahead and deciding run.
While the Bobcats got six hits off The Chieftains, Tonganoxie only managed two singles in the game. With a base hit in the fourth and another in the seventh, Tonganoxie wasn't able to string together hits in the same fashion as BLHS, said Jace Waters, who combined with Grant Ebbert for the Chieftains' hits.
"The two triples, we got a glove on both of them," Waters said of the close contest. "It was just not our day."
Waters said the Chieftains had trouble solving Henley, a southpaw.
"He was a lot different. We hadn't seen a lefty this year. It was a lot different seeing him than a lot of the righties and he had a good curveball," Waters noted. "We won't see many pitchers like him."
THS coach Phil Loomis also praised Henley for his performance on the mound and the coach figured runs would come at a premium with the lefty and Forbis squaring off.
He said the Chieftains, whose other loss came in a 9-8 setback at Jeff West on April 1, have to learn to do the little things it takes to succeed in tight contests.
"A three-run homer is not what you're looking for," Loomis said, noting that he needs all his players to manufacture runs by executing with bunts, hitting grounders the opposite way to advance a runner and the like.
"We've got to get 13 people to be able to do that," he said. "Right now there's about three or four, when they go to the plate, I can count on them whatever I call."
The Chieftains were able to manufacture a run in the bottom of the fourth that tied the game at that juncture.
Waters led the inning off with a base hit to right field, but was later forced out as Forbis reached on a fielder's choice. Forbis then showed some wise base running during the next at bat when Schlicht laid down a would-be sacrifice bunt. A throwing error on the play allowed Schlicht to advance to second base, meanwhile Forbis never stopped running after leaving first on the play and got all the way home for the tying score.
Forbis pitched seven solid innings for THS, striking out nine and allowing six hits in the process.
Loomis hoped the setback wouldn't do anything to harm the team's confidence, because that is the last thing the team needs as it gets deeper into the Kaw Valley League schedule.
"What we're trying to build here is the confidence to know that one-run games are going to go our way," Loomis said, adding that his players only seem comfortable with a big lead. "When we're close - up one or down one - we're a little shaky. We don't feel confident yet."
After five games, the Chieftains have outscored their opponents 33-15 this season and their two losses have come by a combined two runs, so they know they aren't that far from being 5-0. Waters said that fact should keep the team confident.
"We know that this was a close game," he said, "and we know that we could've beat them pretty easily."