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Archive for Friday, May 2, 2008

Only lightning stops Firebirds in 16-0 rout of Indians

Free State's Tyler Hatesohl, top, tags a baserunner. The Firebirds drubbed Shawnee Mission North, 16-0, before lightning forced the game to be halted Thursday at FSHS.

Free State's Tyler Hatesohl, top, tags a baserunner. The Firebirds drubbed Shawnee Mission North, 16-0, before lightning forced the game to be halted Thursday at FSHS.

May 2, 2008

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Lightning brings relief for Firebird foes

Following an afternoon where runs were hard to come by for the Free State baseball team, tonight the Staters returned to the diamond. Let's just say, I hope you weren't late arriving to the ballpark. Enlarge video

The drubbing-in-progress only was getting worse for Shawnee Mission North's baseball team Thursday afternoon at Free State High. Nothing could save the hapless Indians, it seemed.

Nothing on the baseball diamond, that is.

It took a bolt of lightning in the distance to mercifully end the Firebirds' 16-0 romp after just three innings over winless SM North.

The lead likely would have ballooned even more if not for Mother Nature.

"We certainly had some people we wanted to get in the ballgame, particularly some pitchers that we really need to throw," Free State coach Mike Hill said. "We didn't have any interest in calling it off at that point, and I don't think they did, either."

By state rule, however, lightning postpones a game for at least 30 minutes.

"I don't think there was a lot of interest in sitting through a 30-minute delay for a 16-0 game," Hill said.

The victory came just one day after the Firebirds were held to three hits in a 5-3 victory over Olathe South.

Against SM North, hitting actually proved to be a second option. Instead, Free State patiently endured 12 walks - seven from Indians starter Cory Harwig, who lasted just 1/3 of an inning.

By the time the Firebirds (13-1) tallied their third hit of Thursday's contest on Jordan Dreiling's first-inning double, they led 9-0, had batted around the lineup and were well on their way to their most lopsided victory of the season.

"I was really pleased with our offense today," Hill said. "Specifically, how patient our kids were because the ball wasn't around the plate very often, and our kids didn't press. When the ball was around the plate, they struck it awfully well. So, all in all, a good day."

Free State's first run came innocently enough on third baseman John Wilson's sacrifice fly to center field in the first. Five batters later, left fielder Nick Hassig busted the game open with a three-run double to right field to give his team a 7-0 edge.

Every Free State starter scored at least once during the game, and Dreiling even scored twice in the first inning. Oddly enough, only one Firebird - shortstop Hunter Scheib- got more than one hit. He finished 3-for-3 with two RBIs.

Freshman pitcher Cody Kukuk was the beneficiary of the offensive outburst for Free State. In his three innings of work, he faced one batter over the minimum, struck out four and allowed just one hit.

"The offense helped a lot out there," Kukuk said. "It makes it easier for me to go out and throw strikes."

Free State travels to Blue Valley North on Saturday for a nonconference matchup at noon.

The Firebirds improved to 8-0 in Sunflower League play and now need two conference victories to clinch the league title. They'll need more performances like they got on Thursday in order to get there.

"We know we're a good hitting team," Hassig said. "We've just got to show it every single game because, come playoff time, we're going to need that consistency."

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