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Archive for Saturday, July 22, 2000

Raiders sweep Blue Valley

July 22, 2000

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Judging by the final outcomes, it was easy to determine which player made the biggest impact Friday in the Lawrence Raiders' doubleheader sweep of Blue Valley.

Exhibit A Skip Skahan went 2-for-3 with a pair of triples and seven RBIs in a 10-0 rout in the first game. Exhibit B Josh Swenson blew a squeeze bunt, but compensated with a game-tying double in a 11-10 nightcap victory at Free State High.

"We didn't expect to win like we did," Skahan said. "We lost our focus somewhere. But we'll take it."

Skahan was a perfect example of a team dominating from the start. Josh Swenson, on the other hand, exemplified how the Raiders set aside their struggles to conquer adversity.

Consider the Raiders guilty of not concentrating. But it was an easy mistake to make after such a nonchalant win to start the night. Skahan was all the Raiders needed to mercy rule Blue Valley. Rob Etken needed only 50 pitches to mow down the opposition in the four-inning contest.

And it was looking just as easy in the second game. Lawrence led 8-2 heading into the seventh (and final) inning. Oh, sure, there were a few nervous chuckles from the crowd when Blue Valley cut the deficit to 8-6, but at that point there were two outs.

"We never really thought we'd give up the lead," Skahan said.

But that's what happened, as the eight-run, five-hit, two-error inning gave Blue Valley a 10-8 lead.

"I lost my focus," Raiders manager Carl Brooks said. "That's my fault. Then it got all-world ugly."

And it looked disastrous, the way Lawrence could not hit Blue Valley's sidearm hurler. But after controlling Lawrence the previous two innings, Blue Valley lost control.

John Swenson led off by walking and eventually scored on a wild pitch to cut Blue Valley's lead to 10-9. So leave it to John Swenson's younger brother, Josh, who had recently been called up from the Outlaws, to be the hero and the goat in one at-bat.

Damon Benitez stood on third base, potentially the game's tying run. But Josh Swenson failed to make contact with the ball on a suicide squeeze, and Benitez was tagged out after sprinting down the baseline.

"After that, I just heard my dad," Josh Swenson said. "He told me to keep my head up."

Psychologically, Josh Swenson did just that. Physically, he kept his head down and slashed a double to right field to score Rob Etken and tie the game. "Usually when I'm given a sign (to bunt), I get it down," Swenson said. "I just had to shake it off. I had another chance."

Swenson eventually advanced to third and scored on an errant throw to first base on a Rob Scott groundball.

The close call wasn't what the Raiders expected, after the first 10 innings of the night went so smoothly.

Lawrence plays a doubleheader today at Topeka 74 before zones begin. The Raiders are the No. 3 seed and will play at Leavenworth on Tuesday in a Zone 2 game.

But 12 Raiders played their last game at Free State, so why not go out with a bang?

"We definitely made it interesting," Skahan said.

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