Trojans advance with 2-0 victoryBy JOSHUA SEABROOK,
As he has done time after time this season, Luke West delivered another sterling pitching performance against the Tigers of Southeast Lauderdale to win the game.
After receiving a no decision in a game in which West threw 119 pitches against Columbia in round two and suffering a loss to Winona in round one, West looked to pick up his first win of this post season. Matched up against the Trojan ace was Zach Flaskamp, who presented a very tough match for Magee on the night.
After hitting the first batter of the game with a breaking pitch that slipped out of his hand as he went to deliver the ball, West settled down and retired the next three Lauderdale batters in order. The Trojans knew offensively, with West on the mound, any run could be the deciding factor for the team's victory. After Zack Teater lead off the game with a groundout to third, Chandler Pittman scorched a double into the left center gap on the first pitch he saw to provide an instant scoring opportunity for Magee. Timon Kennedy worked a five pitch walk to put men on first and second with only one out. As he has done several times this post season, Brennon McNair delivered with men on base to give the Trojans an early lead with an RBI single to left that allowed the speedy Pittman to motor home from second. After facing trouble to start the inning, Flaskamp refocused and retired Seth Russell via a strikeout and got Adam May to ground into a fielder choice to limit the damage to one. The problem Magee found themselves with early in the game was finding timely hitting to push across more runs after men reached base. All night, many Trojan batters seemed to press at the dish with runners on base.
With a run on the board, West went back to work skinning the Tigers as they came to the plate. Unlike his most recent start, West's pitch count was never a major issue on the evening as the righty navigated the Lauderdale lineup economically to keep his pitch count to a much more manageable number. West cruised through the top of the second with little resistance from the Tigers. In the home half of the inning, Magee struggled out of the gate as Landon Hayes grounded out and Mason Booth struck out swinging to give Flaskamp two quick outs. The Trojans attempted a two out rally on the back of a Cayden Bridges walk and a single by Teater, but a three pitch strikeout of Pittman thwarted Magee's hopes of tacking on a second run. In the visitor's half of the third, West continued to work quickly as he required only seven pitches to retire the Tigers. Kennedy started off the bottom of the third with a groundout to give Flaskamp a quick three pitch out. McNair got things started for the Trojans in the inning with a one out single before advancing to second on an error by Lauderdale second baseman Ryan Smith that allowed Russell to reach base. After a walk by May, Magee found themselves with the bases loaded with only one out.
Here is where the Trojans truly began to struggle with timely hitting, as batters went after pitches early in their at bats rather than work the count and give Flaskamp an opportunity to make an error on the mound. Hayes grounded out to third on one pitch followed by a two pitch fielder's choice by Booth to give Flaskamp a reprieve without issuing a run after loading the bases.
As the game reached the fourth inning with Magee ahead 1-0, West continued to be a buzz saw as he cut through the Lauderdale lineup with little difficulty. After allowing a single to Flaskamp, West retired the next three Tigers in order to send Magee back to the dish. After a strikeout by Bridges to start the bottom of the fourth, Teater reached base thanks to Smith's second error of the day at second. Pittman followed up with a walk to give Magee men on first and second with Kennedy coming to the plate. Kennedy sent a hard grounder that was snagged at third by Caleb Todd, who took the ball to the bag to erase Teater from the base paths. McNair worked a two out walk to load the bases, as Magee looked to crack the game open with two outs. Unfortunately, Russell, who was hot during the Columbia series, continued to struggle against Flaskamp as he struck out for the second time on the game to end the inning. To this point, the Trojans had left 10 men on base and only mustered one run despite having the bases loaded twice.
Despite the lack of run support, West continued to cruise on the mound as he sent the Tigers back to the dugout in order in the fifth. In the bottom half of the frame, Magee still could not break through for the much needed insurance run as Flaskamp continued to hold the Trojans' lead to one. In the top of the sixth, Lauderdale found themselves with their best opportunity thus far to plate the tying run. Dakota Boney led off the inning by reaching base thanks to an error by Russell. Smith moved Boney to second with a sac-bunt to put the tying run just 180 feet from home. Flaskamp reached base on an infield past Russell that was snagged by McNair in the hole behind third. He was not able to get the hustling Flaskamp, but kept Boney from advancing to