Raiders sweep Emporia

Offense sizzles late as bats come up big down stretch

Raiders pitcher Mitch Whitson fires to the plate during the first game of the Raiders’ doubleheader sweep against Emporia Tuesday evening at Ice Field.

Lawrence Raiders second baseman Austin Holladay gets a force out at second and throws to first during the first game of a doubleheader against Emporia on Tuesday.

Baseball, like most sports, is all about momentum.

In both games of the their Tuesday night doubleheader at Ice Field, the Raiders found themselves trailing on the scoreboard before deciding to break away and sweep Emporia, 9-2 and 8-2.

In the first game, the Raiders exploded for five runs in the fourth inning, thanks to a three-run home run from Austin Holladay.

“When we start in the hole it puts pressure on us,” Holladay said.

Luckily for Holladay, he enjoys pressure situations.

A similar story unfolded in game two; however, the Raiders waited until the bottom of the sixth inning to make their run.

Taylor Gentry came up big for the team, going 3-for-4 with two singles, a double and two RBIs to take the lead.

“I had a couple defensive errors early on,” Gentry said. “I was looking to redeem myself. I just really locked in going up to bat.”

Cody Jones also delivered for the Raiders late in the game with an RBI double.

“Hitting is contagious,” Jones said. “It gives you extra motivation. You feel bad when you don’t score the runners.”

Raiders coach Wilson Kilmer said he was pleased with the way the Raiders responded late in both games.

“With this game, it takes time to adjust to the pitching,” Kilmer said. “That’s part of what needed to happen today.”

Kilmer chooses to sit alongside his players in the dugout at all times to help them with adjustments, rather than taking on the traditional role of giving signs from the third base coaching box.

“It’s a young group,” Kilmer said. “I’m just trying to keep them alert to situations and I want to be able to point things out to them.”

On the defensive side, being aggressive with throws is something Kilmer stresses in the dugout.

“We hate giving away bases,” Kilmer said. “Especially later on in the game.”

After giving up a run due to a throwing error early in the second game, the Raiders executed an unusual double play in the top of the sixth inning, picking off a runner at first base and third base consecutively.

“It would have been runners on first and third with no outs.” Kilmer said. “Instead, it was no one on with two outs.”

The many Raiders involved in the run-down kept their composure to secure the outs and carried that momentum into the bottom of the inning to break away from a 2-2 tie with six additional runs.

Tuesday’s sweep marked the third time the Raiders (13-18) had played Emporia this season. In all three meetings, the Raiders won by at least six runs after scoring late in each game. The first time they faced Emporia in a tournament, the Raiders scored seven runs in the seventh inning to finish off the game.

“I guess that’s just how we beat them,” Gentry said.