Miles Kilgore is used to starting games for Lee’s Summit North, not rescuing them.
When he was summoned to the mound April 25 in the fifth inning of the Broncos’ game against Blue Springs South in the final of the Eastern Jackson County Mid Season Classic, the lanky right-hander found himself in the middle of quite the pickle.
Bases loaded. Nobody out. A newly acquired lead that suddenly looked very shaky.
Been there before?
“As a reliever, really not often,” Kilgore said.
Kilgore, though, rose to the occasion, striking out the first batter he faced and coaxing a double play out of the second as the Broncos held on for a 7-4 victory at Legacy Park.
North had just touched Blue Springs South for six runs in the top of the fifth to take a 7-2 lead on the Jaguars, who came in with a 15-5 record and the No. 6 ranking in the state.
That lead looked a lot smaller when the Jaguars began the bottom of the fifth with three straight singles off Broncos starter Nate Webb and loaded the bases. Webb then hit Austin Simms and forced home a run.
“I told him we were going to use him,” Broncos coach Jeff Diekmann said. “I was hoping to get Nate through the first five but he had to come in an inning earlier.”
Kilgore didn’t waste any time killing the rally. He struck out Patrick Lemberger on three pitches, the last one a called third strike. He then got Andrew Tritsch to hit a ground ball to North shortstop Chase Swisher, who tagged Simms out at second and threw to first baseman Andrew Warner to complete the double play.
“I felt I needed to get a ground ball here, let them put the ball in play and let my defense work because they were making the plays today when they needed to,” Kilgore said.
Diekmann said he had no worries about putting Kilgore in that situation. And he had no intentions of taking him out either after South’s Colton Pogue led off the seventh with a towering home run.
“It wasn’t ideal to put him in there with the bases loaded and nobody out, but we knew he was our best choice, our best candidate,” he said. “Fortunately, we were up a little bit.”
North got up a little bit by scoring six runs on five hits in the fifth, erasing a 2-1 Jaguar lead. Matt Brumfield, who went three for four, put the Broncos up for good with a two-run double. Josh DeBacker, Nick Gavin and Dylan Carrander also drove in runs during the inning.
“The fifth inning was pivotal on both sides,” Diekmann said. “Just having (South) get one run out of that was huge because that could have been a big inning.”
Instead it proved to be a big win for North, which won its fifth straight after losing five straight heading into the tournament.
“This week we put five wins together and that gets us back to .500 and gets us back to respectability,” Diekmann said after the Broncos evened their season record at 10-10. “Our kids feel like they can play again and play with almost anybody. So hopefully that carries with us when we get back to conference play this week.”
Kilgore seems to think that it will.
“I think it shows we’ve got a great group of guys,” he said. “We got off to a rough start this year but we’ve finally turned the corner and we’re playing like we can. I hope we can keep this going a long time.”
Lee’s Summit lost to St. Joseph Central 5-4 in the third-place game. Lee’s Summit, 12-9, fell behind 5-0 after two innings before closing the gap with one run in the fifth and two more in the sixth. Noah Arni went three for three and drove in two runs for the Tigers.