Stubbs tosses 2-hitter, leads Basehor-Linwood to third-place finish
KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The Basehor-Linwood baseball team entered the Butch Foster Memorial Baseball Classic riding a three-game losing skid.
Following a 2-1 performance during games Thursday, Friday and Saturday at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, the Bobcats appear to be back on track.
They closed out the tournament Saturday with a 10-0 rout of Holton in five innings and placed third overall. Prior to that, they edged past Paola 6-5 in the first round Thursday and lost a hard-fought game to eventual tournament champion St. James Academy, 4-1, in Friday’s semifinals.
“We’ve been talking about the importance of this weekend all year,” BLHS coach Dave Svoboda said. “It’s the best preparation you can have for regionals, and we know there’s a pretty good chance we’re going to face St. James because that’s another team in the regional that’s going to be very, very good.
“We were reeling at the end of last week when we’d lost those three games, and we learned we weren’t going to have (Tyler) Henley because of the tendinitis in his throwing shoulder and his elbow except for limited mound occasions, so Jeff Johnson needed to throw big for us, and he did on Thursday. Lawless needed to throw big for us Friday, and unfortunately, we weren’t able to catch every ball he threw, but he did a good job. And on Saturday, Austin (Stubbs) was great.”
Solid pitching was key for the Bobcats throughout the weekend, but nobody was quite as dominant as Stubbs. He held Holton hitless for the first three innings while his team built a 4-0 lead.
Stubbs said the early lead helped him relax and throw strikes.
“It gave me a little bit of confidence to throw everything I had,” he said.
The Bobcats scored three runs in the first inning as Destry Bryan earned a leadoff walk, Lawless was hit by a pitch and Henley walked. All three eventually scored.
Lawless reached on a fielder’s choice in the third inning and scored on a double to center by Jared Patton.
Basehor built on the lead in the top of the fourth. Johnson earned a one-out walk and scored on a double to left-center by Dylan Belt. Belt scored on Bryan’s triple to right field for a 6-0 lead.
Holton finally mustered a single with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, but the next batter grounded out to end the inning.
BLHS scored four more times in the top of the fifth as Belt and Lawless each had two-run singles.
The Wildcats managed a base hit and two walks in the bottom of the inning before Stubbs coaxed a ground ball that ended the game.
In addition to the two-hit shutout, Stubbs had eight strikeouts.
Belt led the offense with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate with a double, two runs scored and three runs batted in.
Basehor-Linwood now is 2-2 in games at CommunityAmerica Ballpark this season. The Bobcats have hoped to use those games to get comfortable in the stadium where the Class 4A regional tournament will take place in two weeks.
The Bobcats hit two home runs during the classic, and Stubbs said that gave the team confidence at the plate.
“It helped us to know that (the stadium) is not as big as it looks,” he said. “And we’re getting used to the grass (in the outfield) so we know how to play on it.”
Svoboda agreed playing early games at CommunityAmerica would be beneficial.
“I don’t think there’s any question it helps,” he said. “Winning two of three in a competitive tournament environment, having faced (St. James’) best pitcher and getting seven hits off of him and having Lawless throw well and having seven strikeouts, you’ve got to feel good about all of those things. And the nice part about it is, yeah, we’re still kind of scuffling, we’re still a 6-6 ball club, but we’re darn better at 6-6 than we might have been otherwise.
“At the same time, we still have a long way to go, which is the encouraging thing.”