The rain started pelting down somewhere between the balloon launch and the first pitch. And for a while it came down hard, hard enough to possibly turn Lee’s Summit West’s annual Blue Out baseball game into a washout.
Lee’s Summit West coach Jay Meyer wasn’t worried, though. “It’s gonna pass over,” Meyer said confidently as big drops pounded the dugout roof.
And he was right.
Soon the rain stopped, the players took the field, and the Titans enjoyed a delightful evening April 21, downing Raymore-Peculiar 9-1 on their home field and raising more than $3,000 to help fight cancer.
“It was just a good baseball day,” Meyer said. “Kind of thought it would be gloomy, but someone was looking out for us. Turned out to be a beautiful day at the ballpark.”
This was the third Blue Out game for the Titans, who started the fund-raiser in part to honor Meyer’s wife Brooke, who is a colon cancer survivor. This year’s beneficiary was the NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) Foundation, which helps children fighting the disease.
Cancer also hits close to home for the Ray-Pec team. Panthers head coach Gary Renshaw’s wife is a breast cancer survivor, and Panthers senior outfielder Turner Wehmeyer lost his mother to kidney cancer last summer. The Panthers were playing the game in her honor.
Before the shower and the game the crowd heard from Kaitlin Sandeno, a three-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer and spokesperson for NEGU. Players from both teams launched orange and blue balloons and Lexi Wilson, a Lee’s Summit girl who is battling cancer and participates in NEGU, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
A raffle was held during the game with prize winners announced between innings.
“It’s a big honor to be able to put the uniform on and represent the foundation NEGU,” said Titans’ pitcher Alex Lange, who learned about NEGU while playing last summer in California, it’s always nice to play for something else that’s bigger than just a game.”
Lange has started all three of the Blue Outs, beginning with the first one his sophomore year. In his final one the LSU signee held Ray-Pec to one run on five hits and three walks while striking out eight. And he even helped his cause with a two-RBI single in the Titans’ three-run first inning.
But Lange did have his shaky moments. Ray-Pec strung together three hits in the third for its lone run on an RBI-single by Evan Rathburn. All three of his walks came in the fourth and loaded the bases with two outs. Lange got out of the jam unscathed when Austyn Cochran tried to score from third on a wild pitch but was gunned down at the plate.
“I don’t feel like it was my best outing but I was happy with the way I competed out there,” Lange said. “Baseball’s a funny game where you’re not going to have your best stuff every day and you’ve just got to out there with what you can.”
Lange did have the luxury of a 7-0 lead after two innings and the Titans’ stellar defense backing him up. His single to shallow right field brought in the first two runs of the game, and Ben Peterson followed him with an RBI single.
West tallied another four runs on four hits in the third inning, with Logan Geha hitting a two-RBI triple and later scoring on a wild pitch and John Privitera singling home another run.
After that West managed only two more hits: a leadoff triple by Monte Harrison which produced a run in the fourth and a solo home run by Harrison in the sixth.
Harrison also made two spectacular diving catches in center field, the last of which ended the game.
“We got great timely hitting, good pitching, great defense,” Meyer said. “It was a really nice day of seeing all the little aspects of the game.”
Little aspects that helped raise money and awareness for a great cause.
“It was fun,” Lange said. “Great crowd, great turnout today and we raised a lot of money. The guys enjoyed it. It was a good overall day that’s for sure.”