Home runs from Cody Kozak and Dalton Christian were not enough as the Sedalia Travelers senior Legion team was swept in a doubleheader by the Blue Springs A’s Wednesday at Dey Field and Liberty Park, dropped in the first game 8-2 and the second 5-3.
Kozak hit his blast over the wall in left in the fourth inning of game one. Christian put the Travelers (2-9) briefly ahead with his two-run homer in the fifth inning of game two.
“Cody’s got off to a slow start,” said Travelers manager Mark Carey.
“I expect him to have some power, maybe no home run power but he’s a doubles hitter. Once he gets rolling I expect great things out of him. DC can be hit or miss sometimes but it looks like right now he’s seeing the ball really well. I look for him, (Ian) Dotson and Kozak to get going the rest of the summer.”
In addition to the home run, Christian pitched game two, striking out six in 5-1/3 innings.
“DC was DC,” Carey said. “That’s what I expect him to do every night on the mound. That’s the type of bulldog mentality he has. I felt late in the innings he gave us the best chance to win and I could see it in his eyes, he wanted that ballgame.”
In game one, the Travelers scraped out two hits and two runs off A’s starter Tim Dunker, hitting balls out of the infield but mostly in the form of a fly ball. Eight of the 15 outs recorded while Dunker was on the mound were fly balls to the outfield.
“I can’t stand fly balls,” Carey said. “They’re easy to catch at this level. If you hit it on the ground, not only do they have to field it, they have to throw it, and then the other guy on the other end has to catch it. There’s a lot more that can go wrong for the other team if we can put the ball on the ground.”
The A’s got on the board with five runs in the top of the second. Corbin Hare and Will Kesling opened the inning with back-to-back doubles, and Brandon Bennefeld followed with a single to score Kesling. Singles by Wylson Lamb and Stober followed to bring in three more runs.
Travelers starter Lane Soendker got into several other jams, often working his way out with little or no damage.
In the third inning, he put two on with one out, but got Trenton Orr to line out to Caleb Tanguay at second, and Tanguay doubled off Bennefeld at first to end the inning.
The A’s challenged in the fifth when Grant Gavin led off with a double to the wall in center, but Soendker worked his way out of it, striking out Hare and getting Kesler and Bennefeld to fly out to end the inning.
“Lane was competitive in the strike zone,” Carey said. “What we talked to the guys about is that errors score, when you make an error at this level they’re going to score runs, and in the second inning we had two errors and that kind of got the inning going for them. Other than that Lane pitched great.”
Blue Springs did add insurance runs in the sixth. Lamb and Jeremy Luft hit back-to-back two-out singles and Stober doubled to the wall to score both, making it 7-2. Blue Springs added another in the seventh on a bases loaded walk before Darion Lawrence took the mound, getting one out through a run-down and another on a strikeout to end the inning.
The Travelers got one run in the bottom of the second. With one out, Kozak walked and Tanguay and Chance McMullin were hit by pitches to load the bases. Lawrence followed with a line drive that landed in front of the second baseman. With the runners holding, the A’s were able to turn a 4-6-5 double play but with no force play at third and Kozak crossing the plate before the tag, the run counted.
The Travelers got another run back when Kozak took the first pitch he saw over the left field wall in the bottom of the fourth to make it 5-2.
Blue Springs reliever David Stobel got into some trouble in the sixth, allowing an infield single and hitting a batter to lead off the inning before getting a strikeout and a double play to end the threat. He pitched a one-two-three seventh.
The Travelers managed seven hits in a back-and-forth game two.
“I talked to the guys that we’ve just got to stay on top of the ball and stay on the right side with those soft lefties,” Carey said. “When we started to do that we started to get those hits up the middle. Christian’s big home run really got us going and that gave us the momentum until they scratched a few runs late.”
Both starting pitchers, Christian and Blue Springs’ Grant Hargis, kept the offenses in check through the first three innings.
Blue Springs threatened in the first when Lamb bunted his way on and stole second. Stober singled to right and Lamb turned for home but Ian Dotson got the ball into Kozak who threw Lamb out at the plate. Stober was then caught stealing to end the inning.
The Travelers threatened in the second and third, putting lead-off hitter Dotson on third in the second inning and lead-off hitter Matt Miles on second to open the third, but both times Hargis worked out of it with no runs scoring.
The Travelers broke through with one in the fourth. Dotson hit a ball off the top of the right field wall for a double and Bishop singled up the middle on a hit and run to score Dotson.
But Blue Springs got the run back and took the lead in the bottom of the inning. Stober led off with a line drive over the head of the shortstop and Hare followed with a shot off the glove of the second-baseman that bounded into right field, putting runners on second and third. One run scored on a groundout, the other on a wild pitch.
The Travelers took the lead back in the top of the fifth when Christian powered a two-run homer over the 365-foot sign in left center to make it 3-2.
Christian shut down the A’s bats again in the fifth but could not hold them in the sixth. Blue Springs got runners to second and third with no one out and scored on a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game.
Bennefeld then laced a line drive down the left field line to score another run to make it 4-3 A’s. The A’s added another run on a copper over third later in the inning.
The Travelers will host Independence at noon Saturday.
IF YOU GO
Independence at Travelers