Even with a big lead and a hot pitcher on the mound, Lee’s Summit baseball coach Jim Mellody wasn’t ready to relax.
Lee’s Summit North, after all, has demonstrated a penchant for late rallies this season. And a strong wind was blowing almost straight out to center field at the Broncos Activity Complex.
As it turned out, Mellody’s fears weren’t unfounded. Lee’s Summit had to withstand a six-run rally by the Broncos in the bottom of the seventh inning to hold on for an 11-7 victory April 9.
Lee’s Summit looked to be in control heading into the bottom of the seventh. The Tigers held an 11-1 lead, and Noah Arnie had dominated the Broncos’ bats up to that point.
Arnie pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings until giving up a booming home run to Andrew Warner in the sixth, which was the first time in the game North had gotten a runner past second base.
“My arm started getting tired a little bit, but at least I was still throwing strikes,” Arnie said.
Arnie began the seventh by giving up a single to Matt Brumfield and hitting Herbert Byers with a pitch. Both eventually came around to score on a 2-RBI double by Michael Marra. Three of the Broncos’ next four batters reached base and drove in runs, and the Tigers’ big lead suddenly didn’t look so big.
“I wasn’t really comfortable with our lead until we got up by 10,” Mellody said. “And I was confident Noah would eventually get three outs before they got 10 runs.”
Arnie had thrown only 59 pitches going into the seventh, so Mellody wasn’t inclined to pull him. And who could blame him? Until the sixth, he had only given up three singles while walking none. He finished the game with no walks and nine strikeouts.
“He’s looked good all year,” Mellody said. “Tonight was the first time he’s given up an earned run in two weeks. He’s been nails for us all year.”
Arnie had a 4-0 lead to work with after right fielder Brad Botts, who tallied two hits and three RBIs for the Tigers, hit a two-run double in the first inning and Burnham smacked another one in the second. The Tigers did most of their damage in the fifth when they tallied five runs on three hits, the big blow being Clint Jennings’ two-RBI double.
“I had feeling today we’d hit,” Mellody said. “We hadn’t hit well in about week. We had some pretty good BP yesterday. I felt pretty good offensively coming into today.”
And the Tigers needed those hits after the Broncos bats came to life in the final inning. Brumfield went three for four for the game and drove in a run, while Warner drove in two runs. They just didn’t get started soon enough.
“We’ve got some great senior leadership on this team that has gotten us through some games in the late innings,” North assistant coach Mike Westacott said. “I thought that maybe we had that in us, but we maybe let them get too far out in front.”