(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- Unable to overcome a rough start against Columbus, Kan., on Sunday, the Chaffee Squids saw their season come to a close with a 12-8 loss in the loser's bracket of the 2011 Midwest Plains Regional Senior Babe Ruth Tournament at Hillhouse Park in Charleston.
"We just didn't play a full seven innings again," Chaffee coach Aaron Horrell said. "You have to tip your hat to Columbus. They put the pressure on us to make us mess up."
Spotting Columbus 12 early runs in what looked to be a blowout, the Squids came up to bat in the top of the fourth still hitless and only six outs from a mercy rule exit to the tournament.
Kick-starting his team's offense, Jared Walker singled for what was the first of four-straight Squids hits to score three runs and take the mercy rule out of affect.
Coming back up in the fifth, the Squids kept things rolling as they capitalized on big hits and Columbus' problems in the field to put together their biggest frame of the contest.
Staring things off, Cody Payne hit a line drive to right field that scored Trevor Cannon from second after Cannon opened the inning reaching on an error by the catcher.
Next up, Scott Foster reached on an error by the third baseman before Jared Walker hit a grounder up the middle to score Payne for the second run of the inning while moving Foster to second.
Two more runs scored later in the frame when Connor Scott hit a ball misplayed by the shortstop before Cannon capped the five-run rally by drawing a bases loaded walk to close to within four runs at 12-8.
"There in those later innings we were finally putting the ball in play and they made a few errors to help us out," Scott said. "That gave us a boost and that's why we scored those eight runs in two innings."
Unfortunately for Chaffee, with two outs in the fifth, Columbus' decision to remove right handed starter Codie Perry from the mound in favor of lefty Damon Simmons proved to be a game changer.
After getting the final out with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth on a grounder to the shortstop, Simmons came back in the sixth and retired Chaffee in order.
Down to their final three outs, the Squids opened up the seventh surrendering two quick outs before Nolan Urhahn stepped to the plate with no room for error.
Though Urhahn collected a hit on an infield single to keep Chaffee's hopes alive, Simmons induced a fly ball to right field in the next at-bat to seal the loss.
"I think the lefty caught us off guard a little bit because we haven't seen many this year," Walker said of Simmons. "He's a good pitcher."
Added Scott, "I don't know if it was just different from the righty because he a lefty and it threw us off or what.
"We just didn't hit him as well as well as we were hitting (Perry). Hats off to him though. He played good and shut us down."
With eight hits on the contest, Chaffee was led by Walker and Blake Keasler, who each went 2 for 4 with a pair of singles. Payne, Scott, Josh Overbey and Urhahn each had a single.
"We came back and we made a push at them," Horrell said. A base running mistake cost us an out in the fifth and possibly a run, but it's nothing to hang your head on.
"Ours kids battled, fought and clawed the whole way through."
For Columbus, who had 16 hits, Simmons was 4 for 4 at the plate while Colton Leet was 3 for 4. Perry, Dalton Powell, Chase Leonard and Trevor McLaughlin had two hits each.
With the Squids' first season in the Senior Babe Ruth League now over, Horrell was pleased with what the program has accomplished in such a short time.
"For the first year putting this together going 33-12, that's something to really be proud of," Horrell said. "We didn't play maybe the toughest competition, but in our first year we didn't have the best roster possible that we maybe could have had.
"The kids we did have fought for us all year and we won a lot of ball games. I couldn't be prouder of these boys."
Chaffee 000 350 0 - 8
Columbus 453 000 x - 12
WP -- Codie Perry. LP -- Blake Keasler. 2B -- (CO) Chase Leonard 2, Codie Perry.