Lansing rallies to take two from Tongie
Terrill’s pitching, Mohan’s walk-off homer cap thrilling twinbill sweep
It took the Lansing High baseball team longer than it would have liked to reach the double-digit victory plateau, but the Lions made sure their ninth and 10th wins of the season were worth the wait.
Playing host to a doubleheader with Tonganoxie on Monday afternoon, Lansing rallied to claim a pair of walk-off victories in ultra-dramatic fashion.
After leading by as many as four runs during game one, Lansing fell behind and then plated two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 7-6 victory. Then, after rallying to force extra innings in the nightcap, senior Cody Mohan smashed a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to seal a 6-4 victory.
"We need to start maintaining our level of intensity," said Mohan, whose game-winning blast was one of just three hits he had all night. "If we could keep the intensity that we have in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings the whole game, we'd put teams away."
Lansing (10-6) had a chance to put Tongie away early in game one, but LHS didn't take advantage of its opportunities.
Senior pitcher Chris Wagner worked a one-hitter for the first four innings as the Lions took a 4-0 lead. Sophomore Johnny Stratton ripped a two-run homer to left field in the second inning. Senior Mike Bayless walked and later scored on Wagner's third-inning single. Junior Tylor McNeil then walked and scored on a base hit by Bayless.
The Chieftains rallied to tie the game in the top of the fifth as they strung together a leadoff walk, a double and three singles to plate four runs. Junior Kyle Miller answered with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth, though, and the Lions regained the lead 5-4.
Tonganoxie rode the momentum of its strong fifth inning with a solid sixth. It used two singles, a double, a walk and a hit batter to plate two more runs and take a 6-5 lead. That advantage stood until the bottom of the seventh when Lansing made its final surge. Wagner led off the inning by reaching on an error. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and scooted on to third on a passed ball. Senior Jeff Terrill's single brought home Wagner to tie the game. Miller then struck out for the first out of the inning. Senior catcher Jordan Pratt earned a walk and Stratton was intentionally walked to load the bases for McNeil. The junior right fielder executed what LHS coach Troy Andrews called a "swinging squeeze." Although he made a full swing, he clipped the ball just enough for it to drop and roll about 10 feet in front of the plate. All of the runners were moving on the play and Terrill slid home just ahead of the throw to seal the victory.
Tonganoxie may have lost the first game, but it wasn't about to hang its head and pout. Instead, it put Lansing on the ropes for the entire second game.
The Chieftains took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first before the Lions rallied in the bottom of the second for a 2-1 advantage as Miller and Pratt both scored. The Chieftains answered back with two runs in the top of the third and another in the fourth for a 4-2 lead.
Tonganoxie may have been rolling at the plate at the time, but it would not score again. In fact, it wouldn't get another base runner in the final five innings. Terrill was on the mound and went the distance, and he went into lockdown mode.
"The last five innings he put them down in order," Andrews said. "We had to fight back the whole game. You just keep battling back and try to give yourself a chance to win, and Jeff kept shutting them down. Holy cow!"
Senior left fielder Chris Clemmons singled and later scored on a base hit by Mohan in the fifth inning to pull the Lions within a run. They tied the game in the sixth when Miller singled and later scored on a ground out by Pratt.
With the game tied, the Lions felt confident they could win. They were starting to take the momentum, and Terrill had become untouchable. Although he struck out just five batters in nine innings, he threw just 93 pitches - extremely efficient - and forced the Chieftains to hit ground balls and routine pop flies.
"It gave us a chance," Andrews said of Terrill's pitching.
The Lions refused to let that chance slip away. After stranding a runner in the seventh inning and two more in the eighth, senior center fielder Mike Bayless battled back from an 0-2 count to earn a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth.
Then Mohan stepped to the plate. Facing a 1-1 count, Mohan turned on a curve ball and smashed it out of the park and out of sight.
"I don't think I've hit a baseball that far before," he said with a smile after the game. "That was my only solid hit of the night."
Andrews praised his squad for showing resiliency when faced with adversity. He also had plenty of praise for a young Tonganoxie club that pushed Lansing to the wire.
"They played well," Andrews said of the Chieftains. "Give a lot of credit to what the head coach has done with those kids. They made all the plays. They made the routine plays. They put the bat on the ball in the first game. They battled us and battled us. I wish we'd have played them at the beginning of the year instead of the end of the year because they're playing really well."
Lansing next plays at 4 p.m. Friday at Piper. LHS then will close out the regular season at 4 p.m. Monday at home against Basehor. That will be Senior Night.