Iola AA Indians overcome defensive struggles to earn split

Iola's AA American Legion baseball team had a serious case of the yips Monday. The Indians committed a combined 13 errors — nine in the first game — in splitting a doubleheader with Parsons.

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June 22, 2021 - 10:01 AM

Iola AA Indians pitcher Aiden Jones delivers a pitch against Parsons Monday. Jones allowed two hits over five innings in an 8-3 victory, salvaging the second game of a doubleheader for Iola. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

They can’t all be works of art.

Iola’s AA American Legion baseball team struggled mightily in the field Monday, and in so doing, let an 8-3 lead slip away in the late innings in a 12-8  loss to Parsons.

The Indians rebounded from there by thumping Parsons, 8-3 in the finale.

“We witnessed a fielding slump like I’ve never seen before,” Iola head coach John Taylor said.

Iola committed a combined 13 errors across the two games, nine in the opener, and five in the fateful seventh inning, when Parsons erupted for seven runs.

“I haven’t seen that like I’ve seen today,” Taylor said. “This is a first for me.”

He attributed the struggles to a loss of focus, particularly after Iola swept a powerful AAA Ottawa club one day earlier.

“Mentally, we were just out of it,” he said. “We lost focus, and that’s what happens.”

Things were going smoothly early on.

After spotting Parsons a 1-0 lead after half an inning, Iola tied it with one swing: Nathan Louk’s leadoff home run.

Cooper Riley then pushed the Indians on top, 3-1, with a two-run double. A Parsons fielding error then brought Riley home for a 4-1 advantage.

Ryker Curry pushed the lead to 5-1 in the third with a run-scoring single to bring Riley home.

A pair of Parsons errors led to another Indians run in the bottom of the fourth, and Dillon Bycroft’s two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth had Iola in front, 8-3, and well on the way to victory.

But that’s when Iola’s defense sprang a leak.

An error and  home run brought Parsons to within 8-5 in the top of the sixth to set up the miserable seventh,  during which Parsons sent 11 men to the plate to take the lead for good.

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