Reds feel heat at state
Despite having numerous chances to score more runs and, possibly, win a game at the American Legion Class A Baseball State Tournament on Thursday and Friday in El Dorado, Lansing Reds coach Troy Andrews doesn't see the experience as a missed opportunity.
Instead, Andrews said the missed opportunity would have been to not make it to state at all.
That's why he wasn't too disappointed when the Reds, who finished the summer with a 7-25 record, lost to El Dorado 11-1 in Thursday's opener and then dropped a 20-5 decision Friday to Hays in the losers bracket.
"We had some flashes of greatness, and we had some flashes of our midseason form," Andrews said in summing up the two games. "We played really well at times, but then you make a few mistakes and it's not like you're playing a weaker opponent. You make a mistake or two at state, and it's magnified."
Lansing's flashes of greatness came early against El Dorado as the Reds took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Elias Moya's shot into the gap that allowed Kris Hernandez to score. The lead stood briefly as starting pitcher Peter Gibson tossed two shutout innings.
Unfortunately for the Reds, Gibson was unable to maintain the level of play that made him the hero of their Zone Tournament championship game victory. The 100-plus degree temperatures took a toll on him, and he eventually wore down.
"After the first inning, he was gassed," Andrews said. "The heat really got to him. He threw the second and part of the third, and then we had to pull him."
Gibson was tagged for two runs in the third before Chase Horseman entered in relief. By then, El Dorado was picking up steam. El Dorado scattered hits every inning. Meanwhile, Lansing mustered just three hits all game and had a handful of errors that contributed to the loss. The Reds also stranded numerous base runners.
"In that first game we really had a lot of opportunities to score and just didn't get it done," Andrews said.
The opportunities against Hays were few and far between, but they still existed. After falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first, the Lansing capitalized on a series of walks and tied the game.
The Eagles regained the lead with four runs in the top of the second, but the Reds responded with two hits and an error that allowed them to pull within 6-5.
From there, trouble arose. Just like in their first-round game, the Reds stopped hitting. Just like in their first-round game, base-running blunders kicked in.
Hays capitalized on other Lansing mistakes and used a six-run third inning and an eight-run fourth to complete its run-rule victory in four innings.
Although the season came to a disappointing close, Andrews said he thought the Reds made some major strides during the summer that would prepare them to be varsity baseball players next spring.
"They've seen how far they've come and how far they've got to go," Andrews said. "This summer was huge for them."
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