The Lawrence Raiders might have stumbled upon a new pitching strategy Tuesday night against Oak Park, out of Kansas City, Mo.
The Raiders only had 10 players in uniform at Lawrence High and coach Brad Romme didn’t want to expend anyone’s arm before a four-day weekend tournament in Salina. So his pre-game talk included him unveiling a new plan: send a different pitcher to the mound every inning.
“They all wanted to throw,” Romme said. “It was pretty easy that way.”
And effective. None of Lawrence’s seven pitchers faced more than four batters in an inning. Starter Adam Rea and relievers Ryan Stagg, CJ Stuever, Ryan Cantrell, Jacob Seratte, Kieran Severa and Shane Willoughby combined to hold Oak Park to four hits in a 1-0 victory.
Each hurler worked quickly and efficiently, too. Rea, Seratte and Willoughby didn’t allow a hit. Rea surrendered the only walk. Stagg, Cantrell and Willoughby each struck out two batters.
“Those guys were great tonight,” Romme said. “I don’t know the strike-ball ratio, but it was a lot to a little, for sure.”
Oak Park starting pitcher Jacob Snyder didn’t look too shabby, either, limiting the Raiders (14-8-1) to just five hits. The only time he allowed more than one in an inning, Lawrence came up with the game’s lone run.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Snyder’s first one-out pitch to Cantrell hit Lawrence’s six-hole hitter. That put an end to Snyder’s stretch of eight straight batters retired and provided the Raiders with a little life.
Seratte gave Lawrence its first hit since the second inning with a bloop single down the right-field line and moved to second as Cantrell slid in safely at third base. That brought up Briggs Fish, who delivered the sole RBI of a fast-paced, hour-and-five-minute game with a single to left field.
In a summer that has been filled with long, hot games, Fish said the Raiders had no complaints after finding a shortcut to a good result.
“We didn’t have too many hits,” Fish said, “but we got the win.”
Romme said the game had an odd feel, but he didn’t mind, either.
“The thing that I really liked about it was it was the bottom of the order (producing the run),” the coach said. “We had a lot of hard-hit balls, good at-bats, but the bottom of the order got it done. That’s great.”
Seratte had just retired the side in the top of the fifth, with two ground-outs and a fly ball, before Lawrence took the lead in the bottom of the inning, and he picked up the victory. The 6-foot-4 right-hander pitched as a freshman at Lawrence High on the junior varsity team, and threw some last summer after his sophomore year, but it had been roughly 12 months since he stepped on the mound in a game.
“My mechanics felt all out of whack,” Seratte said, “but I threw strikes, so I’m happy about that.”
Typically a first baseman or outfielder, Seratte said the Raiders responded well to a unique situation.
“Everybody was throwing strikes, which always makes it easy,” he said, “and they were hitting it right to us. The pitchers were mixing it up.”
Now Seratte has a spotless ERA, no hits allowed, no walks surrendered and a 1-0 record on the season.
“Maybe I’ll keep it at that,” he said, grinning.
The Raiders play two games a day at the Salina tournament, Thursday through Sunday.
Oak Park 000 000 0 — 0 4 0
Raiders 000 010 X — 1 5 0
W — Jacob Seratte. L — Jacob Snyder. SV — Shane Willoughby.
2B — David Paffenroth, Oak Park.
Raiders highlights — Ryan Stagg, IP, 2 Ks; Ryan Cantrell, IP, 2 Ks; Willoughby, IP, 2 Ks; Seratte, 2-for-2; Briggs Fish, 1-for-2; CJ Stuever, 1-for-3, SB; Kieran Severa, 1-for-3.