Before every baseball game, Raymore-Peculiar baseball coach Gary Renshaw posts a line-up sheet in the dugout. On May 5, at the bottom of the line-up, Renshaw listed three keys to beating the Belton Pirates:
Do the little things right!
Avoid the big inning!
We don’t lose to Belton!!! The traveling trophy is on the line!!!!
Since the traveling trophy was established at the beginning of this school year, its home has been at Raymore-Peculiar. That will remain the case after the Panthers held on for a 2-1 victory at Belton.
Ray-Pec’s hold on the trophy was in jeopardy after Belton’s Tucker Perkins drove in Caleb Chevalier for a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning.
The thought of sending the trophy west of I-49 lit a fire under the Panthers.
In the top of the fifth inning, Ray-Pec’s Jordan VanTrump and Austin Houston each singled, putting runners on first and second with no outs. The next batter, Turner Wehmeyer, drove a line drive single to right field. Renshaw sent Houston home, but a good throw by Belton’s Chris Burrows to catcher Cal Shillings was enough to stall the Panther comeback.
“We were trying to create something because we weren’t hitting the ball very well,” Renshaw said. “He (Houston) is fast. The right fielder (Burrows) did a good job getting to the ball really quick and he made a good throw to home.”
Even though Ray-Pec didn’t score, Renshaw’s message was clear. Bring home a win.
In the top of the sixth, the Panther’s Josh Scribner singled and was sacrificed to second by an Austin Cochran bunt. Chase Graf doubled the next pitch into center field, scoring pinch runner Dallas Hille and tying the game.
Houston then put Raymore Peculiar in the lead for good with a single to left, scoring Graf.
“I feel like I played well,” said Houston. “I saw the ball nice. It was just my day.”
Sometimes being the manager of a baseball team is like moving the pieces on a chessboard at just the right time. Not long ago Houston was on the junior varsity team.
“We brought him up from JV a couple weeks ago when Logan Moore got hurt. He (Houston) is just a very talented young man, great speed, solid with the glove, and swings the bat pretty good as well. He is going to be a big time player for us,” Renshaw said.
After the Belton win, Raymore Peculiar is 15-10 and seems to be peaking with confidence at just the right time.
“We have a lot of fire and energy during this winning streak and we are not scared of the teams that have the good records,” Houston said. “The team is looking good heading into districts. Someone different steps up every game.”