Lee’s Summit baseball coach Jim Mellody describes the Tigers as Jekyll and Hyde at the plate. Either everybody’s hitting, or nobody’s hitting.
On Wednesday night, nobody was hitting.
Blue Springs South left-hander Brandt Lightner, and a howling wind blowing in from center field, combined to hold Lee’s Summit to three hits and the Tigers a 6-3 loss on the third day of the Eastern Jackson County Baseball Tournament at Legacy Park.
Lightner, a junior, walked four and struck out five as he kept Lee’s Summit hitless between the first and seventh innings. He wasn’t charged with an earned run and he retired 11 straight Tigers going into the seventh.
“When we hit it’s very contagious,” Mellody said. “When it’s not going well, none of us do well.”
Lee’s Summit had a hand in staking Lightner and Blue Springs South to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. After giving up a leadoff single to Allante Hall, Lee’s Summit starter Dalen Blair hit Jared Ravencamp. Hall scored on a throwing error, and Cale Sackewitz lashed a single down the third-base line to bring home Ravencamp.
The Tigers got one run back in the bottom of the first on a leadoff single by Baird, a Jaguar throwing error and an RBI-single from Zavian Hill, but the Tigers wouldn’t get another hit until the seventh.
Blue Springs South, meanwhile, built a 6-1 lead with single runs in the third and fifth – both scoring on wild pitches – and two more in the sixth on another wild pitch and a steal of home by Hall, who reached on a bunt that died on the infield grass.
“I think he (Lightner) was effective, but we also had a 50 mile-an-hour wind blowing in and the Legacy grass is three inches (tall),” Mellody said. “But they scratched out six runs under the same conditions.”
Lightner retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh before the Tigers made things interesting. Ben Lock and Blair drew back-to-back walks, and Michael Edgar followed with a shot to left field. Edgar was initially ruled out when Jaguars outfielder David Latlip appeared to make diving catch, but he umpires huddled and later ruled Edgar safe as the Jaguars were leaving the field.
“In my honest opinion, whatever he called I would have gone with,” Mellody said. “It truly could have gone either way.”
Baird followed with a grounder to the shortstop, whose throw sailed over the first baseman an allowed Lock and Blair to score. Lightner then got pinch hitter Jacob Smith to strike out and end the game.
“Given the calls that were made by the umpire and us threatening, it was a very entertaining seventh inning,” Mellody said.
Lee’s Summit didn’t entertain much offense over its first three tournament games. The Tigers managed just one two-run inning in a loss to St. Joseph Central on Monday, and they needed an RBI single from Austin Polina in the top of the seventh to scratch out a 4-3 victory over William Chrisman on Tuesday.
“Pitching we’re OK,” Mellody said. “Defense, outside of one or two plays, we’re doing fine. Once we hit we’re good.”