A quality start by Kyler Simoncic wasn’t enough for a victory as Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s defeated the Sedalia Travelers, 3-2, in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Liberty Park Stadium.
Aside from a three-run fifth inning when the A’s did all their damage, Simoncic otherwise allowed just one hit over his six frames pitched.
“I’m just here to give my team the best chance I can to win and I thought I did that today,” Simoncic said. “Whenever I command early, I like to get in a rhythm. I like to go at a pretty fast pace. It helps me, I think...I don’t know if my infielders like it, because they don’t get to take ground balls between innings [laughs].”
Simoncic finished striking out six batters, with four of his Ks serving as inning-enders.
“I was able to command my fastball early and I was able to locate my slider low in the zone, so just keeping everything low was allowing me to set up those strikeout pitches,” Simoncic said. “I throw the slider more inside, towards their shoulder. Before that, if I throw some high fastballs it works good, because it’ll start at the shoulder and move down.”
Acknowledging that it’s likely his last summer pitching, the Smith-Cotton graduate is savoring his time on the hill.
“I’m just going out there trying to have fun and playing with my buddies,” Simoncic said. “It’s fun to compete, so just to get to do that a few more times is good.”
The Travelers came narrowly close to giving Simoncic, and Levi Betts, who retired the side in an inning of relief, enough run support. They scored their runs on a triple by Adam Webb that scored Braiden McEachern in the third inning and a single by Duffin Makings in the fourth that drove in Brody Kindle.
Post 642 missed opportunities in several trips to put more runs on the board, though. After leaving the bases loaded in the fourth, a tag at home beat Brody Kindle’s slide to end the fifth inning. In the sixth, McEachern walked and Levi Betts followed up with a single into shallow center with one out, but Webb hit a line drive straight to A’s first baseman Jared Larson, who promptly doubled off Betts to escape with the lead intact.
Wednesday’s games were critical ones as both teams posture for position in the standings. The Travelers’ league record fell to 4-1 after the Game 1 loss, while the A’s improved to 6-1.
“We definitely wanted to come out of these with a split,” Sedalia head coach Tanner McKee said following the first game. “It’s not the end of the world if we don’t, but then we’re kind of putting ourselves behind the 8-ball and fighting back the rest of the way, leaving no room for error.”
In Game 2, the Travelers failed to get that split, losing 5-4 in disappointing fashion.
They never trailed until the final out of the game thanks to RBI singles by McEachern, Baron Austin and Brody Kindle, with a stand-up double by Christian Garcia that scored Micah Copeland representing the A’s only run until the last frame.
Landon Dull, who relieved Connor Tichenor after five innings, worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, then padded his own run support when he scored on a wild pitch in the top of the seventh. Unfortunately for the Travelers, he couldn’t work out of a second. Garcia’s sacrifice fly with the bases loaded pulled the A’s within a run, then a walk reloaded the paths once again before first baseman Colton Zerilli was unable to hold onto a potential inning-ending double play as the tying run came across. A wild pitch scored the winning run in the next at-bat to send the A’s home with a pair of victories.
Post 642 will look to regroup in Warrensburg at the Central Missouri Tournament, beginning with a pair of games on Friday.