Lions roar to lifeLone Tree's bats come to life in time to sweep rival Highland
RIVERSIDE — Senior Jordan Quigley’s eighth-inning walk-off double not only lifted Lone Tree to a 2-1 win in the first game of Tuesday’s Southeast Iowa Super Conference North Division doubleheader at Highland, but it also seemed to ignite the Lions’ bats.
Lone Tree carried that momentum into the second game, where the Lions scored six runs in the first inning and never trailed en route to a 13-9 win.
“We knew we were struggling,” Quigley said. “We were kind of asleep in that first game. There wasn’t much talking and people were just sitting in the dugout. So it kind of woke us up, I guess.”
Senior Colin Gibson drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning for the Lions, who were the home team in the opening game because it was a makeup of a game originally scheduled for May 28 in Lone Tree. Gibson then stole second base and moved to third on a wild pitch. With nobody out, all Quigley needed to do was hit a long fly ball to bring home Gibson. But he doubled to the fence in right-centerfield, and Gibson jogged to the plate.
“Colin did a good job of baserunning and got to third,” Quigley said. “So all I had to do was put the ball in play. I trusted my hands and it just happened for me.”
Lone Tree (8-7, 5-6 SEISC North) had just five hits in the first game, but turned around and had five hits in the first inning of the nightcap. The Lions scored six runs in the top of the first and chased Highland starting pitcher Colin Sexton from the game after a third of an inning.
“Sometimes they say hitting’s contagious, and I guess that’s what happened tonight,” Lone Tree head coach Steve Gibson said. “It took us a while to get going, obviously, but once we did we scored 13 runs in the second game.”
Highland (4-14, 2-8 SEISC North) was undeterred, though, and responded with three runs in the first inning. Junior Josh Brase hit an RBI single, and junior Tanner Vonnahme had a two-RBI base hit. The Huskies then added two more runs in the second inning on Sexton’s double to make it 6-5.
“We gave up those six [runs], but I told the kids when we came in after the top of the first that we had seven at-bats yet,” Highland head coach Mike Mills said. “I think we scored two or three right away and got back in it a little bit there mentally.”
The score remained 6-5 until the fifth inning when Lone Tree sophomore Alex Yedlik scored on senior Gabe Lorack’s sacrifice fly. The Lions added three more runs in the sixth inning with two scoring on senior Logan Forbes’ single.
Highland senior Derrick Stewart hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to trim the Lions’ lead to 10-7, but Lone Tree scored three more runs in the top of the seventh on an error. Stewart had a two-RBI single in the bottom of the seventh, but the Huskies fell short.
“We just couldn’t quite get over that hump and stop them from scoring runs,” Mills said. “We just couldn’t quite stop the bleeding. We gave up 13 runs, and that’s pretty tough to overcome.”
The Lions tallied 13 runs on nine hits in the second game. They also benefitted from nine walks and two hit batters.
“We’ve been struggling lately hitting and we don’t score that much, but tonight that second game was a really good thing for us,” Quigley said. “It got us a little more confident in our bats.”
Lone Tree scored a run on a Highland error in the first inning of the opening game, but then Brase, who started on the hill for the Huskies, kept the Lions’ bats quiet until the eighth inning.
Highland tied the game on senior Talon McFarland’s RBI single in the fifth inning. But that was all the Huskies would get off of Lone Tree pitcher Andy Dodson, who gave up just one run on five hits in eight innings. He struck out 11 batters and walked four, and Highland stranded nine runners on base in the contest.
“We couldn’t seem to get that big hit when we needed it,” Mills said. “Josh pitched a whale of a game. He’s pitched great [all season], but we just can’t get him support when he’s on the mound, it seems like.”
Brase allowed two runs, one of which was earned, on five hits in eight innings. He struck out two batters and walked two. He is now 1-5 on the season despite boasting an earned run average of 1.79.
The Lions finally got to Brase in the eighth inning, when Quigley came through with his walk-off double.
“We did not hit the ball as well as I would have anticipated in the first game, but we got the big hit when we needed it,” Gibson said. “That was huge.”