Cody Newman found it hard to hide his disappointment after 12 mostly frustrating innings Monday night.
Belton’s baseball coach had expected more from the Pirates in their two pool games on the first day of the Eastern Jackson County Baseball Tournament. The Pirates, after all, had just made it back to .500 after four games the previous week, the last one a hard-fought back-and-forth conference win against Winnetonka.
He wasn’t expecting the Pirates to struggle again.
“We had been playing well,” Newman said. “I was ready to go for Monday thinking the energy’s there.”
Belton would wind up 0-2 on that Monday, first losing to Blue Springs South 13-3 in five innings and then dropping a 7-2 decision against Summit Christian Academy in their nightcap at Legacy Park in Lee’s Summit. And Newman saw something he didn’t like in both games: big innings by the opponents fueled by sloppy mistakes.
Belton was within 3-2 of Blue Springs South after the top of the third thanks to Kody Burch’s RBI double. Blue Springs South, which scored three runs in the bottom of the second, put another three-spot on the board thanks to two hit batters and a two-run single. The Jaguars added four more runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth to end the game.
“We gave them two extra outs,” Newman said. “They wind up blowing the game out and we didn’t fight back at all.”
Same thing more or less happened against Summit Christian, the lone Class 3 school in a nine-team Class 5 field. A leadoff single in the second by Zeke Henson and a single from DJ Brouhard knotted the score 1-1 after the second before Summit Christian blew it open with five runs in the bottom of the second. A hit batsman on an 0-2 count started the frame, which included a three-RBI double by SCA starter Eli Rash, a run-scoring single from Brady Garmon and two throwing errors.
“That’s just kind of where we’re at,” Newman said. “When we play consistent, we’re throwing strikes and playing good defense and we compete at the plate, we’re playing with anybody. When we have that one bad inning it tends not to end in our favor.”
Zach Pratt singled leading off the sixth and scored on Henson’s RBI single in the sixth, but that would be it for Belton. Rash, besides driving in four runs, held Belton to six hits and two walks with two strikeouts over seven innings.
Summit Christian is a Class 3 school, but the Eagles did enter the tournament with a 12-2 record. When the Eagles went 26-3 last year on the way to the Class 3 state tournament final, two of their losses came in the Eastern Jackson County tournament against Class 5 teams.
This year, SCA proved it’s up to challenging the big schools.
“We’re confident in what we can do,” said Garmon, who scored SCA’s first run after hitting a leadoff double in the first. “Being a small school, and coming out here against these big guys, there’s really no pressure on us. We’ve just got to come play our game and do our best.”