A lesson in toughness
Wyatt teaches Reds to believe in themselves
It would make sense if Danny Wyatt were frustrated at losing a game where he struck out 11 batters and allowed just three hits, but Wyatt uttered no harsh words after that very scenario played out Tuesday night when the Lansing Reds lost to Tonganoxie.
Wyatt's strong outing was spoiled by three errors in a 5-2 loss in game one at Lansing High. The Reds later were run-rule spread 13-2 in game two.
Wyatt, a 19-year-old right-hander and 2004 graduate of Lansing High, was disappointed Tuesday night but not about his loss. He didn't care about that. In fact, he loved the way his teammates battled and believed they would win.
What disappointed Wyatt was the second game.
"These guys just need to learn to always know you've got a chance to win," Wyatt said. "That's what happened in the second game. They got their heads down too early."
Why did the Reds lose their edge in game two? It likely had a little to do with the fact that Wyatt wasn't in the game. Instead of playing, he offered his spot to a younger teammate who needed more practice.
With Wyatt on the bench, the Reds let their inexperience show through. They looked rattled and many of them lost their edge.
With Wyatt in the lineup, the Reds were on their feet cheering as they brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. With Wyatt on the bench, they played like a team that didn't believe in itself. Wyatt said he wanted that to change.
"It was like just because I was on the mound they thought they had a chance to win," Wyatt said. "Well, when anyone's on the mound they should know they have a chance to win."
Wyatt referenced as evidence that the Reds can win without him the fact that their lone victory - a 15-5 stomping of Geiger Ready-Mix on Friday - came when he wasn't there. In that game it was Tyler McNeil who threw a six-hitter. It was Elias Moya, Matt McMillin, Tyler Wilson, Johnny Stratton, Kris Hernandez and John Sebes who laced timely hits.
It was the utmost sign of evidence, Wyatt said, that progress is being made by everyone on the Reds.
"I've seen a lot of talent on this team," Wyatt said. "Ever since I started playing with them (two weeks into the season) I've seen so much improvement. At the start of the season, in the dugout they were just sitting there moping like, 'Gosh, I don't want to be here.' Now these guys want to win."
Wyatt said he anticipates more Lansing victories as the summer progresses. He said he has seen too much improvement and too much of a positive attitude from his teammates for them not to win more games.
"Oh it's coming," he said of the Reds' success. "They're learning. They really are. By the end of the season I just want to see a complete team, a team that will come back next year and have a .500 season. I really believe they'll do it."
Wyatt said the Reds have a golden opportunity to improve at 7 p.m. Tuesday when the Reds will scrimmage his old American Legion team - the Lansing Huskies.
Wyatt will throw for the Reds during the scrimmage, but he said he wants his teammates to pay close attention to how the Huskies play.
"I just want them to watch how they play," he said. "Seriously, they can learn a lot just with that scrimmage, because that's how much talent that team has."
As for Wyatt, this summer could turn out to be more than about just giving back to Lansing baseball. He said he plans to attend Johnson County Community College in the fall and he intends to walk on to the Cavaliers' baseball team.
"I love baseball so much. I hate to just let it go," he said. "I could just go coach, but I love playing it so much that I want to go somewhere and play."