Reds fall in tourney opener
Defense solid, but offense struggles to produce
Leavenworth The Lansing Reds knew the odds were stacked against them in the Leavenworth Baseball League Tournament when they drew the second-seed Easton Outlaws in the first round.
Still, the Reds entered the tournament on a hot streak of their own, having won three of their last six games. The Reds (4-25) showed no sign of folding early despite falling behind 3-0 in the first inning, but they never were able to generate enough offense to support pitcher Danny Wyatt. As a result, the Outlaws handed the Reds an 8-0 defeat on Wednesday night at Sportsfield.
The Reds mustered just one hit - a two-out single by Kris Hernandez in the first inning - and five base runners all game. Meanwhile, the Outlaws (20-5) pounded out eight hits during the five-inning game and took advantage of six walks by Wyatt, who pitched despite having pain in his throwing arm from an injury during a previous outing.
"He hurt something the last time he pitched, but he wanted to try to gut it out," Reds manager Michael Smith said. "His breaking stuff was fine, but he was only about 85 percent with his fastball."
The Reds threatened to score early when Johnny Stratton opened the top of the first inning by reaching base on an error. He was called out while trying to steal second however. Then Hernandez ripped his single to right field, but the Reds were unable to advance him.
The Outlaws responded to the challenge in the bottom of the first by earning two early walks and then ripping a double and a single that allowed three runs to score. After that, Wyatt settled down on the mound. He allowed just one hit in the next three innings and recorded eight strikeouts in the first four innings.
"I was very proud of them defensively," Smith said. "Danny did a great job and kept us in the game, but unfortunately when we were hitting it we were hitting it right at them."
Eventually his ailing arm wore down in the bottom of the fifth. The Outlaws ripped three straight hits, then had a walk. Next came another base hit, followed by two more walks.
The Reds next will play at 6 p.m. Thursday at Sportsfield against Geiger Ready-Mix in an elimination game. The two teams split the regular season series 2-2, with the Reds winning the last meeting 3-2 on Thursday.
"We split the series with them this season," Smith said, "so I hope they're excited about it. This is it. If we lose the game, then that's it. No more baseball. I hope they're up for it."