LEAVENWORTH – It took a little bit of time, but the real Senior A’s showed up in Leavenworth on Wednesday night.
The A’s trailed winless Geiger 5-3 after four innings in Game 1, but rallied to win 8-5. Atchison dominated Game 2 from start to finish, winning 18-1.
After Geiger score four times in the bottom of the fourth to push ahead of the A’s 5-3, Atchison threatened to score in the fifth inning, but was cut-down on the bases. First, Augie Scholz was thrown out at home on a double-steal attempt, then Steve Cline was also tagged out at the plate when Geiger executed a relay from the outfield on Ayden Black’s single.
Still trailing by two in the sixth, the top of the A’s order leveled the game. Leadoff man Hunter Ostertag ripped a double to open the sixth and Austin Bonnel followed with a walk. Ostertag scored on a ground out by Noah Baniewicz, and Bonnel tied the game at 5-5 thanks to a throwing error by the home team.
James Boatwright relieved Baniewicz on the mound in the bottom of the sixth and breezed through the inning.
Atchison kept the positive momentum going as Scholz, Boatwright and Cline all reached and scored to begin the seventh. Boatwright then set down the Geiger lineup in order in the bottom of the inning to give the A’s the win.
Atchison appeared to be in control early in the game. Ostertag began the first with a walk, two stolen bases and scored on an errant throw by the catcher. Baniewicz also reached and scored in the first and the A’s had a 2-0 lead after one.
Geiger got one back in the second off Baniewicz, but Atchison pushed its lead back to two in the top of the fourth when Black walked and came around to score on three throwing errors by the Geiger catcher.
Atchison’s lead could have been much greater, but the A’s stranded eight runners on base in the early innings.
Other than the run in the second, Baniewicz hadn’t run into much trouble on the mound. That changed in the fourth inning.
The first batter reached on an error and an error in the outfield later allowed one run to score. Geiger singled four times in the inning, but none were hard-hit balls – just well-placed. A bit of good fortune helped Atchison get out of the inning.
With two runners on, a sharp ground ball deflected off of Hunter Wahwahsuck at third, but bounced directly to Bonnel at short stop, who was able to throw the runner out at first and end the inning.
Atchison bounced back in the final innings to pick up the win.
“We scratched a few runs to tie it up and then we switched pitchers,” said Coach White. “I think that kind of gave us a different attitude as a team. It was just a little bit of a change.”
Attitude was what White said was the problem during the A’s poor stretch of play in the middle innings.
“When you start complaining about things you can’t control, such as the umpire, and you start getting frustrated, then your attitude is going to bring your performance down,” he said. “Second game, came out looking like a totally different team with a totally different attitude, and it showed on the scoreboard.”
The second game was indeed different than the first. Ostertag tripled to lead off the game and scored on a double by Bonnel. The first six A’s batters reached base, with five of them coming around to score, plus another run scored by Black to give Atchison a 6-0 lead in the first.
Four more runs came around to score in the second inning. Baniewicz singled to drive in Bonnel, Scholz drove in two runs with a single and Black drove in the fourth run with his own single.
The final onslaught came in the third. Eight A’s would score in the inning as Geiger struggled with walks. Bonnel, Wahwahsuck, Black and Boatwright all drove in runs in the inning to give Atchison an 18-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Boatwright’s dominance on the mound in the final two innings of the first game carried over well in the second game as he pumped fastball after fastball past the Geiger batters.
He struck out the first five Geiger batters, all of them looking. His command left him briefly in the bottom of the third as he walked the leadoff hitter, who then came around to score after three wild pitches. After another walk, he struck out the following two hitters before some confusion led to the third out.
After the second strike out of third inning, the A’s began walking off the field as if all three outs had been recorded. The Geiger runner on first also began walking back to his dugout. When alerted that there were only two outs, Bonnel grabbed the ball and tagged the Geiger runner out to put a cherry on top of the already out-of-control contest.
Neither team scored in the fourth and the game ended with an 18-1 final.
Wednesday’s games were Boatwright’s first with the A’s this season.
“I liked what I saw,” White said. “He did what I asked him to do. You always want a pitcher that wants the ball; James asked for the ball in the first game and he said he could take it the second game, and he did it.”
After a long layoff between his high school season at Atchison High and Wednesday’s games, Boatwright said his arm felt great.
“I just wanted to pound the zone and throw strikes,” he said.
After losing their first four games of the season, the A’s have bounced back with four wins in a row to even their record at 4-4. They will play in the Doniphan County Tournament beginning on Wednesday.