Lawrence baseball falls to Gardner Edgerton, 6-5, for third consecutive loss

photo by: Carter Gaskins

LHS pitcher Charlie Elsten (3) throws a pitch for Gardner-Edgerton batter Carson Schrack (5) during a game Saturday afternoon at LHS on April 10, 2021.

In a hectic game that came down to the final pitch, the Lions ended up falling just short in a 6-5 loss to Gardner Edgerton Saturday afternoon at LHS.

Lawrence (5-4) has now lost three games in a row, all of which have taken place this past week.

Just like their previous two losses, the Lions had every opportunity to end up in the win column on Saturday. They just didn’t.

“I think we let it slip away,” LHS senior Devin Neal said. “Good teams, you can’t really give outs to them. They are going to take advantage of that and they definitely did that. But I love the fight of this team; we are always going to keep fighting.”

That fight was especially obvious during Lawrence’s last-ditch effort in the seventh.

After giving up two runs in the top of the seventh, LHS charged right back to put pressure on Gardner Edgerton. Braden Hoffman began the frame with a leadoff walk, and Blake Schimmel responded with a base knock.

A sacrifice bunt by Reed Wilson moved both runners into scoring position, and August Reed came through with a sacrifice fly in his pinch-hit at-bat. Down to the final out, the Trailblazers intentionally walked Neal and then Lawrence High’s fate was sealed when a hard-hit ball from third baseman and No. 2 hitter Jack Stoll was hauled in by the Gardner Edgerton left fielder.

“Great fight and great energy,” LHS head coach Brad Stoll said. “We had a chance to win it and put a good swing on the ball. Tough way to go down.”

“Great fight and great energy” was practically the Lions’ identity when they last played baseball together just two years ago. They lost multiple close games in that season but managed to put it all together in time to end up in the substate championship game.

That’s part of why Lawrence High isn’t really concerned with this recent skid.

“We are the toughest team in Kansas,” said senior shortstop Carlos Vasquez, who led the attack with a pair of solo home runs. “We are going to stay the course.”

Additionally, part of that mindset comes from the Lions being right there in all of their recent losses. All three defeats this week were by a combined five runs. LHS lost by two at Olathe East on Tuesday (11-9) and by the same amount at Olathe West on Friday (4-2).

“There are always a few plays in a game that decide it,” Neal said. “That happened all week. It just comes with the lack of experience sometimes with the varsity team. We are going to solve those issues.”

On Saturday, those particular plays happened in the fifth, when the Lions surrendered three runs, and in the seventh, when they gave up two more.

In the fifth, Gardner Edgerton evened the score at 4-4 on a two-run triple by Jake McClure. It marked his second triple of the day in a game where the visitors delivered a total of seven hits.

The Trailblazers then took a 6-4 lead after plating a pair of two-out runs in the seventh. Both runs came after Truman Jueslgaard wasn’t able to to secure a fly ball in left field, and Gardner Edgerton capitalized on the mishap.

“It’s a game you should win,” Vasquez said. “We just have to be better. I think overall it was a good game. The energy was good throughout.”

The Lions may have lost, but they still showed a well-rounded effort.

Pitcher Grant Cleavinger made his first start of the year and began the game with a pair of strikeouts in the first. Despite being limited to just 43 pitches, Cleavinger whiffed six batters and was charged with one run on one hit.

“He was pretty amped up,” Brad Stoll said. “I’m glad to see him out there. I thought he was spectacular for the first night out.”

Senior left-hander Charlie Elsten pitched the final 4 2/3 innings in relief and was also strong on the mound. He finished with three strikeouts, but worked around some trouble for much of the afternoon. Vasquez also headlined a strong defensive effort with a lunging snag in the seventh.

“Charlie has found a role,” Brad Stoll said. “I’m really proud of him. He’s backed up a lot of great starters, and he did the same thing today. It was really cool.”

The LHS offense was just as effective. Vasquez clobbered two solo shots over the right-field fence — one in the first inning and the other in the third.

“It was good,” Vasquez said. “I got some pitches I liked. We do a lot of drills beforehand, so I have to give credit to coach Stoll.”

Hoffman and Schimmel both delivered multi-hit efforts, as well. Karson Green had a double during a two-run effort by LHS in the fifth. The Lions finished with 10 hits, marking their second double-digit-hit showing of the week.

“We’ve lost three in a row now to really good baseball teams,” Brad Stoll said. “We are always right there with a chance to win it.

“It’s a long season,” he added. “I know it’s a cliche, but there is a lot of baseball left to be played.”

Next, Lawrence will host Olathe North at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Gardner Edgerton 6, Lawrence 5

GE 0 0 1 0 3 0 2 — 6 7 2

LHS 1 0 1 0 2 0 1 — 5 10 1


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