Lakeridge bounces Putnam from title contention in OIBA quarterfinals
Lakeridge right-hander Will Owen did a number on Taylor Electric's batters Friday.
Owen tossed a four-hitter with two walks and five strikeouts, leading the Pacers to a 6-1 victory in the quarterfinals of the OIBA American Tournament at Rex Putnam High School.
Mac Elske, Derek Seneker, and Mason Utech had two hits each and scored four of Lakeridge's six runs to help send the Pacers into Saturday's semifinal against Gladstone, a 10-3 winner over Reynolds.
Lakeridge scored two runs in the first inning and added two more in the second to take a 4-0 lead, and then the attention turned to Owen, the senior-to-be who wasn't afraid to challenge the Taylor Electric (Putnam) hitters with fastballs.
"I just threw strikes," Owen said. "I think that's the most effective thing a pitcher can do is throw strikes. If I don't throws strikes, I don't allow my defense to make plays.
"I was throwing mainly fastballs, and then I mixed in some changeups and curveballs. Some of the fastball hitters, I'd start them off with a changeup or curve, and that seemed to get them off guard a little bit."
Owen surrendered a single to Taylor Electric's Nick Geertsen leading off the first inning, but then retired the next 10 batters in a row. Some of the batters hit the ball hard and deep, but directly into the teeth of the Pacers' defense.
"Keep catchin' barrel," Taylor Electric coach Chad McGowan told his team after Sam Sholty flew out to straightaway center field for the second out of the third inning. "We'll be all right."
Owen took a one-hit shutout into the fifth when Taylor Electric's John Irish led off with a double off the base of the left-field fence. Irish then got stranded in scoring position when Owen struck out the next two batters and then retired Sholty on a fly out to left.
In the sixth, Geertsen and Tanner Drog led off with back-to-back singles, but Taylor Electric again came away empty after two more fly outs and another strikeout.
"We were stinging the ball a little bit, but we were underneath it a lot," McGowan said. "There were times when we were hitting the ball on the ground and they weren't making every play. But when we were hitting the ball in the air, they were making every play. And we hit the ball in the air a lot today."
Taylor Electric broke up the shutout in the seventh when pinch-hitter Carter Bartley drew a one-out walk and then Lakeridge threw the ball away on a potential game-ending grounder to second, allowing a run to score.
Another Lakerirdge error kept the inning alive before Owen retired Drog on a fly out to left — the ninth outfield fly out of the game for Taylor Electric.
"That was fun," Owen said. "This is my last summer ballgame, so this was a really great way to go out. In the seventh, that was kind of a struggle. My arm was hanging a little bit, but I wanted to go back out there and get the complete game."
Taylor Electric, the No. 1 seed out of the OIBA Amercian's Barney Division, finished the summer with an 18-10 record.
"You want to go out on a win and with a single-elimination tournament, that means we would have had to win the tournament," McGowan said. "Those first couple innings, we didn't make a couple super-routine plays and we kind of got behind the eight-ball a little bit.
"But it was definitely a productive summer. I wanted us to get a lot better on the bases and I think our guys did that. We got a lot of guys some at-bats, a lot of guys got innings on the mound and were really productive, and we played a lot of guys in different positions where we might get to seem them next spring."
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