Sunday, July 17, 2011

George, Athletics club Diamond Kings for 15-5 win in seven

The Lakeville Athletics sent 13 batters to the plate in the first inning, scored eight runs and all but sealed a victory before the game got going.

Lacking its pitching corps, and a bench (a player’s father filled in as the team's ninth player), Inver Grove Heights was able to field a team and play ball today. However, the team fell 10 runs short, as the Diamond Kings lost to the home Athletics 15-5.

Manager Jon Wulff began the day as Inver Grove's de facto starting pitcher, and it was a rough day on the hill for the righthander. Wulff retired seven Athletics before exiting the game having surrendered 10 runs - including three hits and 5 RBI from Lakeville third baseman Kevin George.

“It was good. It was quite the change from the Eagan game, they found a way to drop [today],” said George - who hammered the ball well in his team's 14-1 loss to Eagan last Saturday, but finished the game 0-for-4.

For Inver Grove, it was a rough night to say the least. Wulff finished his outing having allowed seven hits, five walks and two hit batsmen in less than three innings.

He allowed 10 runs (five unearned) before his day mercifully came to an end as he motioned for LaShomb to relieve him on the mound.

“I just said I can throw a couple innings,” LaShomb said, “It’s probably about four years since the last time I pitched, So I just tried to go in and throw strikes, let them hit the ball and [let our defense] make plays.”

LaShomb, who said hadn’t pitched since high school, retired his first two batters to get his team out of a jam in the third. But the Athletics put a hurting on him in the fourth.

Lakeville right fielder John Degerness flew out to right to begin the inning. The next batter, Justin Hahn, slapped a single to right. Eddie Golom followed with a walk. Pitcher Trent Larson shot a double down the third base line to score one run. Eric Watts followed with a single to right to drive in two. Then George collected his third hit of the day - a towering blast to right center for a two-run homer.

“[LaShomb] was throwing it around the plate and pretty straight, so he was a good pitcher to get under one on,” George said. “Especially when he’s throwing fastballs, he didn’t have any off-speed [pitches] as far as I saw. So sitting fastball in a hitter’s count, it’s a good place to hit a home run out of.”

The home run was a no-doubter, as the Inver Grove right fielder took no more than a step before watching George’s bomb sail over the fence.

LaShomb was shelled pretty hard on the mound, as his team was down 15-2 before he esccaped the fourth. Although his team was going down, LaShomb made sure he went down swinging.

In the top of the fifth, LaShomb sparked some life into his Diamond Kings. The burly slugger belted a Larson offering deep to right-center that appeared to be leaving the park. LaShomb’s blast stayed in the yard, but he was able to easily pull up with a lead-off double.

Larson lost control afterward, as two wild pitches scored LaShomb. Actually, the Athletics hurler did not have much control be for that either - Larson earned the win, but he walked seven in five innings.

The pace of the game eventually picked up as Diamond Kings reliever Dan Lojovich retired six of the seven batters he faced. Lakeville reliever Josh Spitzack followed suit, retiring six of the seven batters he faced as well.

Lojovich had an usual delivery, but he got the job done. Watts, who went 2-for-2, was the one Athletics batter who reached base off the ... Sidewinder?

“He threw about the same speed [as LaShomb], but from way off to the side,” Watts said, describing Lojovich as best he could. “He almost tucks his elbow into his body. So it’s a little different picking up [his delivery].”

With a combined 14 walks, three hit batters and four errors in seven innings (the game was shortened due to mercy rule), it was not the cleanest of games. But after losing its previous four games, a win was a welcomed sight for Lakeville with the postseason looming near.

“It’s good to get a win,” Watts said. “We’ve got two more games [to play], then playoffs, so we might as well keep getting hits.”

The Athletics travel to Burnsville tomorrow to face the Bobcats. The team’s season finale is the following Monday against Savage. Both games are played at Alimagnet Park and both games have 7:30 start times.

**I was the PA for this game, thus could not take in-game photos. Following the game, I interviewed and took photos of three of the game's star players. Pictured in the photos, from top-to-bottom, are Lakeville's Kevin George, Inver Grove's Alex LaShomb and Lakeville's Eric Watts.

**Notable individual efforts
Kevin George: 3-for-5, HR, 2B, 5 RBI, R
Eddie Golom: 2-for-3, RBI, 4 Rs
Eric Watts: 2-for-2, 2 RBI, R
Trent Larson: 1-for-1, 2B, HBP, 2 BBs, RBI, 3 Rs
Josh Storm: 2-for-3, RBI, R

Alex LaShomb: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 Rs
Jeremy Bade: 1-for-3, BB, 3 Rs
Ted Rebka: 2-for-3, 2B, SF, 3 RBI

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