Brad Stoll had seen enough, so the Lawrence High baseball coach “called some guys out.”
The strategy worked as the Lions rallied for four runs in the fifth inning to spill Olathe South, 7-2, on Thursday night at Ice Field.
“Until the fifth, everybody except Devin (Forio) and Dorian (Green) had had uncompetitive at-bats,” Stoll said, “so I told the other guys, ‘If we don’t hit in the fifth, we’ll just empty you out, and use somebody else.’”
Clint Pinnick began the uprising with a single, then Albert Minnis crushed a David Reese pitch over the center fielder’s head for an RBI double to forge a 2-2 tie.
Moments later, after Jake Green walked, Tyler Bailey’s ground single to right scored the go-ahead run, then Tanner Kilmer singled to virtually the same spot to give the Lions a 5-2 cushion.
“We hadn’t been scoring a lot lately,” Kilmer said, “so I was just trying to get us a run.”
The Lions added two more insurance runs in the sixth without a hit.
“Seven runs,” Kilmer said. “That’s the most we’ve had in a while.”
In their last six games, as a matter of fact, or ever since the Lions unloaded a couple of double-digit bombs on sad-sack Leavenworth.
During their current nine-game win streak, the Lions (14-4) have relied mainly on pitching. They went into Thursday’s game with three straight shutout victories, and, with ace Minnis on the mound, four whitewashes in a row loomed as a possibility.
But Minnis struggled in the first inning. The junior left-hander surrendered a single, hit a batter and issued three walks. O-South scored one run and might have had more if Green, the Lions’ catcher, hadn’t thrown out Kyle Rich trying to steal.
Minnis stressed he wasn’t trying to adjust to the umpire’s strike zone.
“The strike zone was fine,” he said. “I was trying to adjust to myself. I was flying open and everything was up. Once I figured out the problem, it was smooth sailing.”
Mostly, it was. The Falcons did score a soft run in the fifth when Keegan Knight singled — he had three of O-South’s five hits — stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and crossed the plate on a passed ball.
Minnis, who had thrown 34 pitches in the first inning, was lifted after the sixth.
“I’m not a big pitch-count guy,” Stoll said. “And (Minnis) wanted to finish, but I thought he was laboring a little bit.”
Andy Urban pitched the seventh, walking a pair but also striking out the side.
The Lions, winners of 14 of their last 16, aren’t scheduled again until Wednesday, when they’ll entertain Shawnee Mission West. O-South (8-4) is slated to play host to Free State tonight.