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Paola takes twin bill from Linn County

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Maybe it was the change in the calendar, or maybe it was just playing the Linn County Rebels, but the Paola American Legion team is undefeated for the month of July, as they swept a double header from the Rebels on Thursday, July 1, 2010 at Russell Field in Wallace Park.

Whatever the reason, the outcome remains that the legion team has a modest two game winning streak headed into the Independence Day holiday weekend after sending the Rebels home with a 11-1 run rule defeat in the first game and then hanging on for a 3-2 five inning wood bat affair in the nightcap.

WLH0154 The first game was easy, maybe too easy, as the Linn County team resembled a team that really didn’t have their heads in the game, giving up five runs to Paola in the bottom of the first inning, which put Paola well on its way to ending the game early.

Paola led off the game with the Matt “twins” Petelin and Dickey each reaching base before Conner Kresin and Tanner Staats made the first two outs of the inning on a grounder to third and a strike out. Seth Kern broke the scoring open with a double to right scoring Petelin and Dickey and the rout was on.

The Paola offense continued as Jack Pursley singled and Austin Dent walked to load the bases for Austin Ohlmeier who responded with a double to left scoring Kern and Pursley and giving Paola a 4-0 lead. Joe “The Babe” Pomatto walked to re-load the bases before Taylor Harris drew a walk which forced in Dent with the fifth run of the inning. The Paola rally ended with the bases loaded as Petelin struck out to end the inning.

In the second inning the legion threw another run on the board, as Matt Haefele led off with a double to left and moved to third on a Kresin single. Staats walked to load the bases before Kern reached safely on a throwing error by the catcher. On the play Haefele scored making the score 6-0. Linn County got out of the inning as Pursley bunted into a 1-2-3 double play, retiring Kresin at the plate and when Dent followed with a line drive to short the inning ended with only one run crossing the plate and Paola holding a 6-0 lead.

Linn County broke up Joe Zoucha’s shut out in the top of the third as they used a lead off single and a pair of Paola errors to score a run to cut the lead to 6-1, but Paola got that run back in the bottom of the inning as Ohlmeier led off with a single and scored on a two out double by Petelin to make the score 7-1.

After retiring the Rebels in the top of the fourth, Paola ended the game pushing across four runs in the bottom of the inning to get to a 10 run advantage. Kresin led off the inning with a walk and came around to score on a one out hit by Kern that was played into a three base error by the Linn County left fielder. Kern scored as Pursley singled making the score 9-1. Dent followed with a single as did Ohlmeier, which scored Pursley making the score 10-1. Pomatto became the second out of the inning on a fly ball to second before a single by Harris scored Dent with the game winning run.

Game two was much closer than it should have been, as the team’s old habits of not putting an inferior team away and throwing away scoring opportunities with bone headed base running crept back into play, allowing the Rebels to hang around and not allowing Paola to put the game away early. Paola head coach Curtis Murdock calls it “playing down to your competition,” and this game was a prime example, and in the end it almost cost Paola the game.

Three consecutive one out walks netted Paola just one run and that came on a Dickey steal of home, making the score 1-0. Jeremiah Daniels and James Young ended the inning with a strike out and a ground ball to short.

Paola added a second run in the second inning as Haefele led off with a single to left and came around to score, also on a steal of home, to give Paola a 2-0 lead. Paola added what proved to be the game winning run in the bottom of the third inning as Dent led off with a walk and moved to second on a steal. Dickey reached safely on an error, moving Dent to third. Dent scored on a squeeze attempt, but Dickey was thrown out trying to go to second for the first out of the inning. Kresin struck out for the second out before Kern walked and moved to third on a single by Daniels.

Paola again tried to swipe a run, as Kern bolted for home on another squeeze attempt at the plate, but the bunt attempt was fouled off and Kern returned to third. On the very next pitch, Kern again broke for home, this time the pitcher picked up on the play, and Kern was easily thrown out at the plate, drawing the ire of Murdock, questioning the rationale of trying that play on consecutive pitches.

The Paola inability to put together big innings almost cost them the game, as Linn County came back in the top of the fourth, to use a lead off walk, a stolen base and a single to score a run to cut the Paola lead to 3-1 and then, after Paola was retired in order in the bottom of the fourth, picked up another run on a one out walk and some ineffective Paola defense to slice the lead to 3-2, but two strike outs ended the inning and the game with Paola holding on for a 3-2 victory.

The legion team will take the Independence Day holiday weekend off, and will resume play with another home doubleheader on Tuesday, July 6, 2010 as they will host Iola at Russell Field in Wallace Park, first pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.

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