By the time the Lawrence Raiders found some rhythm at the plate in their Friday doubleheader at Lawrence High, it wasn’t enough to offset a long stretch of mostly unproductive plate appearances.
During a 4-1 loss to MNS Indians 18 Blue and a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Advanced Baseball Academy, the Raiders failed to score a run in 10 of their first 11 innings.
“I think, on the mound, both games we were good enough to win,” Lawrence coach Brad Romme said after Adam Rea pitched six innings of the first game and Ryan Cantrell pitched four scoreless innings of relief in the second loss. “We weren’t hooked up at the plate today, and we were fortunate to get a couple of those (runs).”
Despite all of their struggles, the Raiders had a chance to tie the game against Advanced Baseball in the bottom of the seventh, once Anthony Miele led off with a rare triple to the gap in left-center field. Josh Stagg drove Miele home on a sacrifice fly that cut the Advanced lead to 4-3.
However, after Sam Hearnen (3-for-4) reached first on a bloop single to shallow right field that got lost in the afternoon sun, Briggs Fish’s grounder turned into a game-ending double play.
Miele, a recent Free State High graduate, said the last inning had the feel of a Firebirds comeback.
“This time we couldn’t pull it out,” he said.
The Raiders (21-14-1), who had six of their eight hits in the last three innings, began fighting back in the bottom of the fifth. Drew Green reached on an error with one out, and after Lee McMahon singled and Miele walked, Stagg produced his first RBI of the game with a single to center field.
In the sixth, Fish reached on an error and ended up at third with no outs after a wild pitch. Adam Rea then drove in Fish with a single to make it 4-2.
Stagg said the Raiders held themselves back in their back-to-back losses.
“We just didn’t come out locked-in today,” the third baseman said. “Baseball’s a grind. You’ve got to come in locked-in every day and today wasn’t one of those days.”
Against the MNS Indians, Lawrence produced just four hits. The team’s only run came in the bottom of the fifth, when Hearnen led off with a ground-rule double. Two batters later, Tristan Garber smacked another double to center field, making it a 4-1 game.
For the first time since the beginning of the summer, Romme sensed the Raiders are in an offensive funk. The absence of starters Kieran Severa (center field), Shane Willoughby (shortstop) and CJ Stuever (utility) might have something to do with that. Willoughby and Stuever both traveled out of town for vacation before they start college and Severa, a Lawrence High senior, went to Drake University for football camp.
“You can see that the pop’s not there offensively,” the coach said. “You knew that going in, when you take those bats out of the lineup.”
While the lineup lacked three of its top hitters, Stagg said there were no excuses for the stagnant offense.
“We’ve still gotta put up runs,” he said, “and we just didn’t do it.”
The Raiders return to LHS today for another doubleheader. They’re scheduled to play MNS Brewers at 11:15 a.m. and Milhouse Baseball at 1:30 p.m.
MNS Indians 18 Blue 020 011 0 — 4 7 0
Lawrence Raiders 000 010 0 — 1 4 1
W — Nick Schmidt. L — Adam Rea.
2B — Adam Thies, Tyler Watson (2), MNS Indians; Ryan Stagg, Sam Hearnen, Tristan Garber, Lawrence.
Advanced Baseball 310 000 0 — 4 8 5
Lawrence Raiders 000 011 1 — 3 8 1
W — Manker. L — Briggs Fish.
2B — Beebe, Advanced Baseball. 3B — Pener, Advanced Baseball; Anthony Miele, Lawrence.
Raiders highlights — Hearnen, 3-for-4; Stagg, 1-for-3, 2 RBI; Miele, 1-for-2, R; Rea, 1-for-3, RBI; Garber, 1-for-2; Lee McMahon, 1-for-4.