by Michael Smith
The Grain Valley baseball team got a mixed bag of results in its first two games of the 2022 season in the Metro Leadoff Classic.
After kicking off the season with a 11-6 victory against Lee’s Summit North in their season opener, the Eagles’ pitching sputtered in their second game of the day in a 9-2 loss to Lee’s Summit West Saturday at the Creekside Baseball Complex in Parkville.
While the Titans didn’t exactly tear the cover off the ball, they took advantage of some shaky Grain Valley pitching, which issued nine walks and four hit batters. Because of the overall lack of control on the mound, Eagles head coach Brian Driskell had to use five pitchers in seven innings.
“Even if you are playing a team that’s not very good, you aren’t going to fare very well when you put that many guys on base,” Grain Valley head coach Brian Driskell said, “especially against a team that’s as well coached as they are.”
“They didn’t even have to work very hard to score runs. I think they had four or five hits.”
Grain Valley got off to a hot start in the top of the first inning when leadoff hitter Jace Weems walked and scored on a single by first baseman Kaden Jeffries and an outfield error that allowed him to cross home plate.
West immediately responded in the bottom of the inning as they worked three walks off Grain Valley starting pitcher Joel Palecek, who was relieved by Hayden Hermon after just four batters.
With the bases loaded, first baseman Jake Galloway ripped a two-run double to right-center field to give the Titans the lead. Right fielder Tyler Wood tacked on an RBI single and designated hitter Lance Weigel had a sacrifice fly to put West up 4-1 after one inning.
In the second, Howie Grauberger led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch and later scored on Jackson Truman’s ground out to make it 5-1.
Grain Valley threatened a big inning in the third after having runners at third and first base with no outs. However, catcher Brody Baker grounded into a double play, which allowed Michael Montgomery Jr. to score. That’s all the Eagles would get as they went into the bottom of the third trailing by three.
The Titans scored one in the bottom of the third and three in the bottom of the fourth to seal it, while taking advantage of all the free passes the Eagles gave them.
The Grain Valley offense only managed three hits, with Jeffries getting two of them to lead the team. Grant Huffman was the winning pitcher for the Titans as he allowed just two runs on two hits and struck out six in five innings.
“We aren’t going to be a team that hits four doubles in a row,” Driskell said. “We are going to have to draw walks, get hit and scratch out some long at bats. We need to get some guys on base. We play them two more times, so hopefully we can learn from this and do better next time.”
Against North, Grain Valley scored nine of their 11 runs in the final three innings to top the Broncos.
Brek Sloan led the Eagles by going 2-for-4 with a run and three RBIs; Blake Prewitt was 2-for-3 with a run and RBI; and Weems was 2-for-4 with two runs.
Grain Valley starting pitcher Pierce Bousselot got the win as he tossed four innings as he allowed three runs on three hits and struck out five.
Grain Valley senior Kaden Jeffries tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings against Lee's Summit West in a 9-2 loss Saturday at the Creekside Baseball Complex. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley's Hayden Herman fires a pitch toward the mound. Photo credit: Michael Smith