Archive for Monday, July 11, 2005

Outlaws fifth at AFA State

Sanders, Rios solid on mound, but errors prove costly

July 11, 2005

— The Lansing Outlaws were bounced from the AFA State Tournament on Sunday at Field of Dreams, but coach Russ Stark said it wasn't because they lost to a better team.

Instead, the Outlaws (14-11-2) beat themselves with five errors as they fell to eventual champion Topeka Explosion 6-1. Earlier in the day the Outlaws dropped a 4-3 decision to Komotion, the third-place team. Lansing placed fifth overall at the tournament.

"None of these teams are any better than us," Stark said. "We were close to being there, and hopefully with two tournaments left we can put something together."

Just how close were the Outlaws to being state champions? Very close.

In the loss to Komotion - a loss that snapped Lansing's five-game winning streak - the Outlaws led 1-0 after three innings and pitcher Dana Sanders had a no-hitter going. Kommotion scored two runs off of an error in the fourth, and plated two more in the fifth for a 4-1 lead. Lansing rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fifth, and final, inning. They had the tying run on third when a questionable call at first base stalled the rally.

The Outlaws had their chances to put the game away early, though, but they stranded the bases loaded in the first inning and left two runners on base in the second.

"In that first inning it should have been 3-1 instead of (the game ending) 4-3, "Star said. "And that last-inning error, we've got to get over those things. That just snowballs before it's over."

The Outlaws had their chances in the loss to Topeka as well. Pitcher Erika Rios worked a one-hitter for four innings and the Outlaws supported her with plenty of good defense. The bats weren't clicking, however, and Lansing led just 1-0 on a run by Jessica Kane in the second inning.

Topeka tied the game with a run in the top of the fifth. That's when things started to come undone for Lansing. The Outlaws went three-up, three-down in the bottom of the fifth and then gave up five runs on three hits and two errors in the top of the sixth.

"We had innings where we came out and we looked like we were unbeatable, like that first part of the game," Stark said. "The first three innings we were tough. And then one thing leads to another :"

Stark said he was confident the Outlaws were getting close to putting a full game together. He said he saw plenty of signs throughout the weekend.

The Outlaws close out league play at Field of Dreams with a 6:15 p.m. Wednesday doubleheader. Then it's off to the USSSA State Tournament beginning Friday at Mid-America West, formerly JCGAA, on Johnson Drive. After that the Outlaws will close out their summer at nationals in Lawrence.

"I think they've realized they've got two weeks left and that's it for the rest of their lives as far as playing together," Stark said. "They're looking forward (to these last few games)."

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