Chieftains thumped by Thunder
Loomis: Tonganoxie needs leaders
Shawnee A day after losing its first game of the season, things appeared to be getting better but then regressed back to worse for the Tonganoxie High baseball team on Wednesday evening at Shawnee.
The Chieftains cut an 11-run deficit to three but lost by mercy rule, 20-10, after four and a half long innings against St. James Academy at Mid-America Sports Complex.
THS (8-2) trailed 13-2 entering the fourth and turned a walkfest into an eight-run rally, seemingly putting the team back in line — or at least in contention — for a victory. However, St. James responded with seven runs of its own in the bottom of the fourth and the game was over when the Chieftains went down in order in the top of the fifth.
Chieftains coach Phil Loomis was discouraged afterward with what he described as a lack of leadership during what has been a rough couple of days on the diamond for THS.
“Leaders tend to recover from those situations,” Loomis said. “If you don’t got any, sometime you don’t get over those situations. We’re looking for people to lead right now.”
The coach said the team needed leadership in any and every form.
“I think in all aspects of the game — lead by example, lead by what they say, lead by their actions, lead by their performance,” Loomis said. “Right now we don’t have anybody performing at a level of a leader that people would look up and go, ‘I want to be like that person.’”
Tonganoxie got back in the game in the fourth with four straight walks to open the inning. Blaize Oelschlaeger, Tyler Lupton, Dylan Puhr and Tucker Hollingsworth walked and after Dylan Caywood struck out, Ethan Lorance walked too, giving THS five bases on balls and two easy runs.
With the heart of the lineup at the plate and the bases full of Chieftains, the next five batters drove in runs.
Rob Schlicht hit an RBI-single to left and Jace Waters followed with the same. Then Brandon Yoder drove in two with a single to right. Oelschlaeger scored Waters on a ground-out chopper that bounced 25 feet in the air. Next, Lupton plated Yoder with a single to left, making the score 13-10.
After that big rally, Loomis said the lack of leadership reared its ugly head. The coach said there was a lack of energy in the dugout and nobody was talking up the team, encouraging their teammates about the game being winnable.
However, Loomis said Tonganoxie’s focus, or lack thereof, was the biggest culprit in the 10-run setback. Whether it was missing a grounder, not having a good at bat or pitchers missing spots, they all spelled disaster for THS.
Yoder started on the mound for Tonganoxie but was relieved after an inning with the score 6-1.
Oelschlaeger then entered for two innings of work, during which the Thunder scored seven.
Caywood started the fourth, but after walking two, Puhr came in and allowed two earned runs. Kyle Newton finished the final two-thirds of the seven-run inning.
Errors dogged the Chieftains throughout. They had one in the first, two in the third and two more in the fourth.
After losing twice in two days, Tonganoxie will practice Thursday and Friday, try to work out the kinks and get back on the field Monday for a 4 p.m. home doubleheader with Santa Fe Trail.
As Loomis said: “We’ve got two days to figure this out.”