Five-run first inning propels Lawrence baseball to 5-1 victory
photo by: Carter Gaskins
A five-run first inning — in which all nine hitters earned a trip to the plate — was all the damage LHS would have to do to earn its 5-1 home victory over Brandon Valley on Saturday morning.
LHS has now won three in a row and is 3-1 entering its Sunflower League opener on Tuesday.
“We had some really good, quality at-bats (in the first inning),” LHS head coach Brad Stoll said. “We took advantage of some walks, and I thought we were aggressive early on the base paths. We took advantage of some of the mistakes that they gave us.
“I just wish were a little bit more effective offensively,” Stoll added. “But the good thing is we had over 10 quality at-bats today, and that’s really what we put our efforts into.”
In fact, the Lions had 12 quality at-bats, many of which came in the home half of the first inning.
After Brandon Valley grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Lawrence quickly answered, starting with a leadoff single from senior Devin Neal. That would be the lone hit of the frame for the Lions, but it was all they would need because of their approach at the plate.
Brandon Valley’s starting pitcher struggled with command issues, leading to an early pitching change. LHS took advantage, drawing four walks in the first frame alone. Back-to-back walks issued to Cole Mondi and Braden Hoffman with the bases loaded gave the hosts their first two runs of the day.
The Lions tacked on three more runs before the inning was complete, two of which came via an error by the third baseman. Blake Schimmel completed the five-run outburst with a RBI groundout.
Senior shortstop Carlos Vasquez said it was especially impressive considering the game’s early start time.
“Morning games are going to be harder,” said Vasquez, who went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. “We have to come out swinging. We can definitely improve, but it was a good way to start the game.”
Vasquez has now opened the year on a four-game hitting streak, including a pair of multi-hit performances from the No. 3 spot in the lineup.
“I think I’ve gotten some good at-bats,” Vasquez said. “It’s been pretty good so far.”
A two-out single from Vasquez in the third and a fifth-inning infield single from Colin Marett were the only two hits by the Lions after the opening frame. But another strong showing by the pitching staff meant LHS didn’t need any more offense.
Pitcher John Green settled in after the first inning and allowed one run off two hits over three innings of work. He also struck out three batters. Reed Wilson then pitched three shutout innings of relief, striking out three batters and giving up one walk.
Senior Jackson Dooley pitched a scoreless seventh and picked up one strikeout to finish the game.
“That’s two days in a row,” Stoll said of Lawerence’s strong pitching performance. “Johnny was really, really good. Reed came in and has had two really good outings in a row. Jackson came in and closed the door for us.
“If we can get pitching like that, you feel good about scoring five runs,” Stoll added.
It also allowed the Lions to deploy plenty of players from their bench. Junior Evan Bannister entered the game in the fourth and made a couple nice defensive plays from third base. Porter Dannevik got an at-bat in the bottom of the sixth, and Marett’s base knock came after he subbed in for Mondi. August Reed led LHS in RBIs with two.
Entering Tuesday’s league opener, the Lions have outscored their opponents 16-6 over their last three games.
“The energy is fantastic,” Stoll said. “I’m pleased with where we are going. It’s a lot of fun to be around them every day. After sitting out last year, every inning is beautiful.”
Next, Lawrence will host Olathe Northwest at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Lawrence 5, Brandon Valley 1
BV 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 1 run 2 hits 4 errors
LHS 5 0 0 0 0 0 X — 5 runs 2 hits 0 errors
Pitching highlights: John Green 3 IP, 2H 1R 3K 0 BB; Reed Wilson 3 IP, 0H, 0R, 3K, 1BB.
Hitting highlights: Devin Neal 1-for-3, 1 run scored; Carlos Vasquez 1-for-2, 1 BB; Cole Mondi, RBI; Braden Hoffman, RBI; August Reed, 2 RBI.