Archive for Thursday, August 4, 2005

Cavalry finish summer in style

Blakley, Coleman, Hansen victorious in final game

August 4, 2005

— When Lansing Cavalry coach Jake Hanson discussed with Leavenworth Blue Sox coach Mike Kroll the possibility of having their teams play an end-of-summer baseball game, both men agreed it was the perfect idea.

What better way to send off a local squad's seniors, as well as give all players one last game to get pumped up for, than with a showdown against the rival from the city next door?

Turns out, the final game was perfect for the Cavalry for a number of reasons. They earned a 10-4 victory. Every Lansing player had at least one hit. Most important, though, was that the three Cavalry seniors in attendance - Conn Blakley, Josh Coleman and Lonnie Hansen - all ended their Lansing careers in style.

Coleman singled in his final at-bat. Hansen threw out a runner at second in the ninth inning. Blakley closed the game on the mound with a strikeout.

"You probably couldn't have written a better script," Cavalry coach Jake Hanson said. "I'm going to miss those guys a lot."

If not for the contest with the Blue Sox, the Cavalry's summer would've ended as it has in years past with a loss during the Class AAA Zone Tournament. Instead, they finished with a victory.

"It was nice to see them not end the season on a sour note," Hanson said. "I think it worked out well. I'd much rather do it this way (playing Leavenworth) than the alternative. And the guys all had fun. I wanted them to go out with some success, and they did."

The emotion wasn't lost solely on the coach. Even the three seniors wore their hearts on their sleeves a bit after the game.

Blakley will play college baseball next year, but he's still deciding where. He is expected to make his decision in the next two weeks.

For Coleman, it may have been the final baseball game of his career unless he walks on at Kansas City Kansas Community College. The same goes for Hansen, who has interest and has shown the skill to play at the next level.

Regardless, it was the last time the three likely will play together.

"They're a great group of guys," Coleman said. "I love these guys. I'm going to miss them."

Lansing's bats clicked from the very beginning of the game. They loaded the bases in the top of the first inning as Hansen led off with a single, Mike Bayless reached on an error and Cody Mohan singled. The Cavalry were unable to score a run, but that didn't last long. They stranded two more runners in the second inning and then broke through in the third with four runs on four hits and two walks.

The lead grew to 6-0 in the fourth inning as Johnny Stratton plated a run on a ground out. Then Kyle Hutchison ripped a run-scoring single up the middle.

Coleman earned a leadoff walk in the fifth, stole second and came around to score on Mohan's base hit. The lead increased to 9-0 in the sixth as Jeff Terrill and Stratton both singled and later scored on Mike Amaral's double off the fence in left field.

Leavenworth rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh as a result of three Lansing errors, but the Cavalry settled back down and added another run in the eighth.

Mohan and Amaral worked the first seven innings on the mound, but Blakley was brought in to finish the job. He struck out four of the six batters he faced to end the game.

"It was nice that Conn got to finish the game with me," said Hansen, Lansing's catcher. "We've been playing together since eighth grade, and the pitcher-catcher relationship has been great."

Blakley praised Lansing's younger players for stepping up in key situations and generating runs that helped preserve the victory. Among those underclassmen who delivered were Hutchison and Stratton. Hutchison had three hits and three RBI, while Stratton had a single, run and RBI.

"It was a great night," Blakley said. "We all played well. Everybody was hitting. We had only nine guys and the younger guys really stepped up. I thought it was a great night."

A great night, but the final night as well.

"It was good for all of us," Hansen said of Tuesday's proper ending. "It's a good happy note for all of us to end on, and to do it together was great. We're missing a couple of guys - Matt Mowery was out of town, and Curtis Burgoon and John Tytla didn't play with us this summer - but it was still a good summer. Getting to play this extra game at the end and finish with a win, it puts a happy note on everything."

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