Archive for Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cubs take two from Bandits

June 22, 2006

Lonnie Hansen has been called a lot of things in his days as a baseball player.

He has been called a catcher and a clutch hitter. Given the fact he wears jersey No. 11, he most frequently has been called "snake eyes," the gambling term for rolling a pair of ones in craps.

Monday night against the Easton Bandits, Hansen earned a new nickname: "the closer." Hansen was in his usual spot behind the plate in game one for the Lansing Cubs as they cruised to a 14-1 victory. In game two, however, he left his traditional position and took the mound for three innings of relief pitching. Hansen allowed no earned runs and struck out three as the Cubs coasted to a 28-10 victory.

"I had joked around for a long time about pitching," Hansen said, "and today I was like 'Hey coach, come on, man.' I went over to the bullpen, and I could throw the ball to the glove. That was all we needed for this game."

Hansen didn't have to worry about fooling the Bandits with any flashy pitching. He just needed them to hit pop flies and ground outs to preserve a double-digit lead. The Cubs' bats were red-hot in game one, and the sizzlin' swinging continued in the nightcap. The Cubs plated six runs in the top of the first and added 11 more in the second. After scoring one run in the third and none in the fourth, they closed the game with a 10-run fifth inning.

In game one, Lansing (3-7) fell behind 1-0 in the first inning. After that, it was all Lansing.

The Cubs scored three times in the bottom of the first as Mike Sherman walked, Robert Lewis was hit by a pitch and Matt Mowery laced a single. All three came around to score. The Cubs added two more runs in the bottom of the second. Ezra Carpenter was hit by a pitch. Tylor McNeill singled. Lewis then ripped a single that allowed Carpenter and McNeill to score. A nine-run third inning provided plenty of cushion for Logan Ryan to polish off the victory on the mound. Ryan struck out four Bandits in four innings.

Conn Blakley filled in at catcher for Hansen during the second game, and he said Monday's offensive showcase was just what the Cubs needed.

"I think this will really relax the guys," he said. "I'm hoping we'll come out the next game with the same intensity."

Intensity appeared to be the biggest difference for the Cubs.

"We came out with enthusiasm, which is something I hadn't seen all year," Cubs coach Michael Smith said. "Hopefully that will carry over."

The Cubs return to the field at 6 p.m. today against Tonganoxie Post 41 at Lansing High.

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