END OF THE ROAD: Neosho County goes 1-2 in zone tournament; season ends

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July 17, 2017 - 12:00 AM

CHANUTE — Neosho County American Legion team head coach Cody Lassman wiped the sweat from his brow Sunday afternoon just outside of historic Katy Stadium in Chanute. His team’s inaugural season had just ended with two losses in the Zone Two tournament, both by double-digits.
It hasn’t been easy for Neosho County, by evidence of  their 7-14 record. But Lassman can’t help but look past the struggle and see the accomplishment.
Formed primarily from the Humboldt players that didn’t make the Iola and Chanute American Legion teams, Neosho County has been the poster child for the underdog mentality all season long.
“It says a lot about the team and the type of players they are,” Lassman said. “They really will play for the guys sitting next to them than they will for themselves. We plan on coming back next year and being ready.”
For Lassman though, all the losses, failures on the field and disappointments have been worth it because it’s allowed kids that may not have been able to play baseball the opportunity to do so.
“It was a necessity to get these boys on the field this summer,” Lassman said. “They do love baseball and roughly half of them would’ve gotten shut out of summer ball. We found a need to try to get something together. I’m real happy that they’ve stuck with it.
NoCo – 9, SEK – 1
Neosho County’s lone Zone tournament win was versus the SEK drillers in the opening game Saturday morning.
Neosho outfielder Connor Eitel doubled home second baseman Josh Vanetta to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first just before a passed ball scored Eitel pushing the lead to 2-0 several batters later.
A two out error allowed SEK its lone run of the game. Starter Garrett McGuire went all five innings giving up just one unearned run on four hits and two walks.
“I wanted to throw strikes and let my defense take care of me,” McGuire said. “I knew they would. I have confidence in those guys.”
Late in the game, an SEK batter hit a line drive right at McGuire’s arm. Despite the pain, he finished out the game.
“It was exactly what we needed,” Lassman said of McGuire’s performance.
In the bottom of the fourth Neosho scored five runs to take a 9-1 lead.
“The ball bounced our way today,” Lassman said. “We we’re seeing the ball. They’re pitcher wasn’t that bad but we just put some bats on balls.”
That was enough to force the run rule after 4.5 innings.
Ottawa – 14, NoCo – 1
Seven runs in the top of the second inning was just too much for Neosho to overcome as the Ottawa Arrows rolled to an easy victory in just four innings.
However, a single hit in the game didn’t keep Neosho from have multiple good looks as the plate as they managed to get one run across thanks to an Ottawa error and three walks.
“It’s tough,” Lassman said. “Especially when you’re looking at the goliath there on the other side. It can really be easy to put your guard down and give up and I don’t think we did that today.”
Pittsburg – 16, NoCo – 6
After Neosho grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, it seemed that they were set to suffer a similar fate that they did versus Ottawa as Pittsburg pilied on 11 runs in the next two innings.
However, four runs in the top of the fourth thanks to a single from outfielder Jordan Myers and an error on a ground ball from Vanatta scored three and another walked in another run cutting Pittsburg’s lead to just six.
“It’s been that way all year,” Lassman said. “They’ve never given up, even when I feel like I’ve given up on them, they always prove me wrong and show me that they’re ready to try to come back and win that game. I’m proud of them.”
Even with that momentum, Pittsburg was able to turn it on again in the bottom of the inning, scoring the needed four more runs to end the game.

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