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Paola gains split with Garnett Legion

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The Paola American Legion Baseball team split a doubleheader with the Garnett Legion team on Thursday, June 17, 2010 at Russell Field in Paola. The Legion dropped the first game by a 4-2 count and picked up a win in the second game by a score of 5-1.

Paola held the lead in game one for much of the game, but could not find a way to put the game away, and finally, after allowing Garnett to stay in the game, saw the contest slip away in the late innings.

Both teams were retired in order in the first inning, and Garnett also went in order in the top of the second, but in the bottom of the inning, Paola finally broke through and scored the first run of the game to take a 1-0 lead.

After Austin Dent grounded to short to open the inning, Tanner Staats reached safely on an error and then stole second and advanced to third on an overthrow. Austin Ohlmeier brought Staats home with a ground ball to second for the second out of the inning, and the rally ended as Jeremiah Daniels grounded out to short.

WLH0016 Garnett got a two out walk in the top of the third, but a strikeout ended the inning with no further advance. In the Paola half of the third, Matt Haefle led off the inning with a single, but three straight fly ball outs left him stranded at first. In the top of the fourth, Garnett loaded the bases with two out on a pair of errors and a walk, but Seth Kern got out of the inning on a line drive to right field, stranding three, but giving a preview of things to come in the last few innings.

Kern walked to lead off the home half of the fourth, and Taylor Harris entered as a courtesy runner for the Paola pitcher. Harris advanced to third base on a passed ball and a ground out, but was stranded there on as an Ohlmeier strike out ended the inning. Garnett got a runner in scoring position in the top of the fifth as they got a two out double to left field, but the runner was picked off second by a nice move from Kern.

Paola picked up what looked like an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth, as Daniels led off with a single off the second baseman’s glove and advanced on the error. After a Haefle strike out, he moved to third on a ground ball off the bat of Young and then scored on a bloop single by Matt Petelin. The rally ended on a Jack Pursley strike out, but with two innings to play, Paola was clinging to a 2-0 lead.

The top of the sixth started well for Paola, as they got a lead off fly ball out to center field, but then Kern issued a walk and followed that up with a hit batter, putting runners on first and second with one out. Paola Head Coach Curtis Murdock went to the mound and changed pitchers, bringing in Conner Kresin to work the rest of the inning. Kresin gave up a single to the first batter he faced, which drove in Garnett’s first run of the game and cut the Paola lead in half at 2-1. Kresin responded by getting the next two batters on a pop fly to short and a line drive out to right, and Paola was still clinging to a 2-1 lead.

Paola went meekly in the bottom of the sixth with a Kresin ground ball back to the pitcher for the first out, and strike outs by Austin Dent and Staats, leaving just three outs standing between Paola and a game one victory.

The outs couldn’t come fast enough for Paola, as Kresin opened the inning by hitting the first batter, and after a fly ball out to center, walked the next batter putting runners at first a second with one out. A double to center scored the tying run, and Garnett took the lead on a grounder to first, when the throw home was late trying to nail the lead runner. Another walk and another fielders choice led to a fourth run for Garnett, and when Paola was retired in the bottom of the seventh, Garnett had secured the 4-2 game one victory.

“We let them hang around too long in the first game,” said Paola Head Coach Curtis Murdock. “We have got to find a way to score more runs, I just had a feeling two runs would not be enough.”

Game two went better for Paola, as they were able to put some hits together and take a 5-1 victory in the five inning, wood bat affair.

After a scoreless first inning and a half, Paola was able to break on top in the bottom of the second, as Kresin doubled to lead off the inning and moved to third as Dent reached safely on a throwing error by the Garnett third baseman. Paola tried some trickery on the next hitter as Staats tried several times to lay down a bunt, the final time, he bunted foul on his third strike with Kresin charging down the line on a squeeze play. With Staats retired as the first out, Daniels got the hit that broke the scoring ice for Paola with a long fly ball out to center, as Kresin jogged home from third with the first run of the game.

With Dent advancing to third, Young walked and stole second before both runners moved up on a passed ball, with Dent scoring Paola’s second run of the game. Harris became what appeared to be the third out of the inning, but the ball got away from the Garnett catcher, allowing Harris to reach safely at first and Young to score, giving Paola a 3-0 lead.

Garnett scored a run in the top of the third and Paola was retired without a run in the bottom half of third. Garnett could not score in the top of the fourth, but in the bottom of the fourth, Paola tacked on two more insurance runs and with an inning to play, Paola held a 5-1 lead.

In the fourth, Dent was hit by a pitch leading off the inning, and stole second during a Staats at bat that ended in a strike out. Daniels hit a ground ball to second and was safe on an errant throw by the second baseman, which allowed Dent to score on the play. Young hit a ground ball to third and Daniels was out at third on a fielders choice. Harris singled to left and Haefle (who was running for Young) came around to score the game’s last run, making the final score 5-1.

“We have to learn how to put people away,” Murdock said. “We need to have some fun and score some runs.”

Paola did score some runs in the second game, but through both games, any offense the legion did mount seemed to be a struggle.

Paola will take part in the Osawatomie Raiders Tournament this weekend, as they will play on Saturday and Sunday, June 19 & 20 at the Karl E. Cole Sports Complex in Osawatomie. Paola will play their first game at Noon on Saturday against Linn County and follow that up with back to back games at 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. against the K. C. Blaze and the host Osawatomie Raiders. On Sunday Paola will play a 10:00 a.m. game against the Lansing Cubs and then will play at either 4:00 or 6:00 p.m. depending on their record in pool play.

The Legion team will take to the road next week as they travel to Eudora on Tuesday, June 22 and Fort Scott on Thursday, June 24.

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