Archive for Thursday, June 15, 2006

Clutch hits continue to elude Cubs in Legion losses

June 15, 2006

— Timely hits continue to elude the Lansing Cubs. That, in a nutshell, explains why the 18-and-under American Legion baseball team is 1-5.

The Cubs dropped a pair of games Monday to the Leavenworth Legends, 11-3 and 6-3, at Padilla Field. A lack of clutch hits was the primary culprit. The Cubs stranded four runners in scoring position in game one and six in game two.

"It'll come with more experience in the box for a lot of these guys," said Cody Mohan, the Cubs' pitcher in game two. "We've just got to start stringing hits together and have better at-bats. Guys have got to go up there looking for a pitch to drive."

Another factor that has contributed to the Cubs' slow start has been errors. Most of those mistakes have been the result of mental lapses by some of the squad's younger players. Cubs coach Michael Smith said the errors were partially the result of unfamiliarity amongst the players. About half of the team is composed of Lansing High veterans. The other half is an assortment of players from Basehor, Leavenworth and Pleasant Ridge.

"They're still developing some familiarity with each other and trying to bring that into the game," Smith said. "A lot of times they're kind of going through the motions, and by the time they decided to kick it in during the first game, it's too late. But it's something to learn from."

Fortunately for the Cubs, there have been plenty of signs that they're starting to gel. The most obvious sign is the fact that they've been far more competitive during the second game of doubleheaders than the first game. That was the case Monday when the second game against the Legends was tied after five innings. It also was the case Saturday when the Cubs earned a split with Geiger Ready-Mix. Geiger won the opener 9-0, but the Cubs responded with an 11-6 victory in game two.

Lansing High senior-to-be Tylor McNeill tossed a seven-hitter in the victory against Geiger. He also went 2-for-2 at the plate and scored twice. In that game, 2005 LHS graduate Conn Blakley went 3-for-3 with two RBI.

"It's going to come down to intensity, not making errors and having your head in the game," Mohan said of the keys to the Cubs' success the rest of the summer.

The Cubs play a doubleheader at 6 p.m. today against the Leavenworth Knights at the Lansing High field.

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