Hays After the Raiders' second straight victory at the American Legion AAA state tournament Friday at Larks Park, Lawrence coach Carl Brooks struck up a conversation with Raiders parent Mark Mangino -- head football coach at Kansas University.
Mangino congratulated Brooks on his team's 16-6 run-rule victory over Olathe North, but informed him if the Raiders played Sunday for the championship he couldn't attend because Sunday was the first official day of the football season.
"You won't need me here to win the championship," Mangino quipped.
Brooks fired back: "If they keep hitting the way they are, I'm pretty sure they won't need me, either."
The two men were joking, but the Raiders are on quite a roll and could bring the first legion championship to Lawrence since 1964. Friday was more of the same, as the Raiders scored 12 or more runs for the fifth time in as many postseason games.
"It's just completely awesome right now," said center fielder Derek Bailey, whose two-run triple in the bottom of the sixth broke open a 2-1 game as the Raiders plated eight runs.
"It's pretty amazing how things are going right now," Brooks said of his 37-10 team. "But I'm trying to keep them focused for each day."
The Raiders (37-11) definitely focused, matching their 22 hits from Thursday's 14-9 victory over Salina, although it took two more innings Friday before their bats woke up.
"The pitchers out here are much better than the ones we faced in our league all summer," said Dominick Harrell, whose double down the left-field line in the eighth gave Lawrence the run-rule victory. "It's taking us a little bit longer to get adjusted to the pitcher, but once we do figure him out, our bats are completely dominating."
That wasn't the case early Friday, as both teams scratched out a run in the first inning.
From there, Raider Matt Lane, who struck out seven Friday, and Olathe North's Aaron Hicks took over.
But in the fifth, Bailey smacked a single up the middle and Tommy Mangino tried to put down a sacrifice bunt.
Didn't work, but it didn't matter.
Mangino's errant sacrifice was perfectly placed, dropping over the pitcher's head in front of the charging second baseman. Taylor Martin followed him with an ensuing strikeout that scored Bailey.
As Martin swung through the pitch, Bailey stole third while Mangino took too big of a lead off of first. Olathe catcher Daniel Wise tried to gun down Mangino at first, but his throw was low and skipped into the outfield, allowing Bailey to score.
"Well, I almost screwed up taking that extra step to second," said Mangino. "But I guess I was bailed out by the catcher, and, hey we got a run out of it."
That was the only luck the Raiders needed Friday, as they more than created their own in the sixth by scoring eight runs on eight hits.
David Arndt led off with a single and moved to second on Kyle Unruh's bunt before Andrew Pyle singled. Both Arndt and Pyle scored when Bailey smacked a triple to left center.
The hits kept coming when Mangino knocked in Bailey and scored again because of his speed and a couple of passed balls.
"I was pretty fleet-footed today," Mangino said.
Berner walked before Martin struck out. But Harrell knocked in Berner with his second double of the day. Aaron Madill's single scored Harrell, and Arndt, who led off the inning, drove in the final run with a single to right.
"I really don't want to sound cocky, but just judging by the way we are hitting and if we can keep it up, there's not a team out here that can beat us," Harrell said. "But after each game Brooks is keeping us focused by asking us what our record is and making sure we know that what happened today doesn't matter tomorrow."
Lawrence 16, Olathe North 6
Eagles 100 000 23x -- 6 8 3
Raiders 100 018 24x -- 16 22 1
WP -- Matt Lane (4-3). LP -- Drake Hicks. 2B -- Eagles, Cody Williard; Raiders, Matt Berner, Taylor Martin, Kyle Unruh, Dominick Harrell. HR -- Eagles, Aaron Hicks.
Raiders highlights: Derek Bailey 4-for-5 5 runs 3 RBIs, Tommy Mangino 3-for-6 2 runs, Taylor Martin 3-for-6 3 RBIs, Dominick Harrell 4-for-5 2 2Bs 3 RBIs, David Arndt 3-for-5.