It was a rivalry game that lived up to its billing.
Even though the Leavenworth Pioneer baseball team had had five more opportunities to get on the diamond than its Lansing Lions’ counterparts due to recent bad weather, the two teams met up Saturday with beating the other and getting to play on the best day of the spring to date.
Then the pitchers took over.
Leavenworth’s two aces – Collin Jones and Josh Lucas – had to sit due to the new pitch count rule taking effect on both for the first time, putting sophomore Dylan McLain on the mound.
McLain gave up a two-run home run to Lion Tanner Williams in the first inning, but then settled down, scattering six hits and striking out three Lansing batters in a complete game, 3-2 win.
“He definitely earned some more innings throughout the year so we are extremely proud of him,” Allison said. “We had good defense, clutch hitting and we made things happen. It was a fun day.
“We took the game seven years ago, knowing that Lansing had a pretty good squad back then. Every year we look forward to the community showing up and doing what they do to support us. From first pitch to last pitch, both teams played hard. We saw their best and beat a regional opponent. The excitement never left the diamond and Dylan stood up to one of the better pitchers in the state.”
Not to be undone, senior Lansing hurler Josh Robinson had quite the first outing of the season, as he struck out seven Pioneer batters while scattering nine hits.
“I thought we pitched it well and Josh settled in and maybe was a little amped up in the beginning, but other than that, he threw it really well,“ Lansing head coach Michael Basler said. “I think our defense is a lot better than a year ago, We got out early in the season before the rain game, really helped us. We had the ability to get in a lot of defensive work and work on lot of ground balls and fundamentals. This could be something that is consistent for us.”
“I thought it was high-level defense (both ways).”
Leavenworth (6-0) ultimately won the game in the top of the third inning on the game’s only error to take the lead and the final margin in a game full of defensive wizardry on both sides.
Robinson and the Lions had had four doubleheaders rained out to date and began their season officially against their rivals.
McLain showed a lot of the composure he gets to watch daily with his two aces and he needed it as the Lions tried valiantly to bring home the tying and/or winning runs in the bottom half of the final two frames, but to no avail.
“It was fun and I knew coming in I was a little nervous: It’s Lansing our rival obvious, so I wanted to do good,” McLain said. “I started off a little shaky and gave up the home run obviously...I pitched a bad pitch and he got a hold of it to take advantage. That’s adversity, you have to bounce back. I bounced back with a strikeout and went from there. My defense really backed me up. I was very confident in because we have six seniors out there and they are obviously going to do their job.”
Williams led off the season with a round-tripper for the second straight year, but he hopes to have a better campaign start to finish.
“It feels good, but unlike last year, I hope to hit better going into the season rather than just the first game,” Williams said. “Playing Leavenworth always means a lot to me. I’ve played against these guys about half my life now, so it feels good to have a game against them.
“IF we had those (eight) games under our belt, it’d been a much better outcome. Hopefully we see them at Regionals. (McLain) pitched really well and handled our lineup really well. As much credit is given on the field a lot of it is due to him.”
L&L CUP UPDATE:
Lansing leads overall, 40-39
Lansing girls up 27-2
LVHS boys up 37-13