Paola drops pair to Ottawa in opener


It was an inauspicious beginning for the Paola American Legion Baseball team, as they dropped a pair of games to Ottawa to open the season on Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at Ottawa. Granted, Ottawa was coming off a season where it went 43-0 and won the Kansas State American Legion title, but Paola looked to play Ottawa tough, and did so in the first game, falling 3-1, but then the wheels fell off in the second game, as Ottawa clubbed Paola 12-1 including scoring 10 runs in the first inning.

WLH0092 At least game one was competitive, in fact, Paola scored the first run of the season in opening a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. The two teams battled through three complete innings of scoreless baseball before Paola broke through with their run in the top of the fourth. After seeing their first eleven batter retired in order, Paola picked up their first baserunner of the game and season, as Matt Dickey laced a solid single up the middle and scored as the next batter, Seth Kern, doubled. Paola got another base runner as Austin Dent was hit by a pitch, but the inning ended with two left on base as Austin Ohlmeier grounded out to the pitcher.

The Paola lead was short lived, as Ottawa came back to tie the score in the home half of the fourth with a lead off single and a double on back to back hitters, and then took the lead for good in the fifth as they scored two more runs to take a 3-1 lead.

Paola, on the other hand was retired in order in the top of the fifth, and did advance a runner to scoring position in the top of the sixth as Tanner Staats reached on an error and moved to third base on a stolen base and a passed ball, but strike outs by Jack Pursley and Dickey and a ground out Austin Dent sandwiched around a walk to Kern netted no runs for Paola and Ottawa hung on to take the opening game of the season by a 3-1 score.

The second game was just plain ugly for Paola, as they were unable to muster any kind of offense and suffered through what might be the worst half inning of baseball they will see during the entire season.

The first inning saw Paola be retired in order as Staats grounded out to the short stop, Jeremiah Daniels struck out and Dickey hit a pop fly to the first baseman which was caught in foul territory.

It was at this point that any similarities to the first game ended, as Ottawa roughed up the Paola pitching staff for ten runs in the first inning and two more runs in the second to open a commanding 12-0 lead before Paola was able to avoid a shutout and score a single run in the third.

Paola starting pitcher Seth Kern lasted but one third of an inning, as he opened with three straight walks, and added a couple of passed balls to allowing two Ottawa runners to score. Even after Ottawa recorded their first out on a ground ball to third, things continued to go from bad to worse, as they next batter was hit by a pitch and the following batter laced a double to left field and the flood gates had opened.

After the dust had settled, Ottawa had sent 16 batters to the plate, racking up four walks and having three batters hit by pitches. To that, Ottawa managed five hits and added a Paola error on their way to opening a 10-0 lead.

Matt Haefele came on to pitch in the first and finished the game, but the first inning took Paola completely out of the game and they were never able to recover. Ottawa turned three more walks and a triple into two runs in the second, with the only reason it wasn’t three runs being the lead-off runner was thrown out trying to steal after walking to open the inning.

Paola was able to avoid a shut out by plating a run in the third inning, as Ohlmeier led off with a solid single to left, followed by Taylor Harris being hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. A single by Staats loaded the bases before a single by Daniels scored Ohlmeier with Paola’s lone run of the contest.

Paola will return to action this weekend as they take part in the Jim Allen Wood Bat Tournament in Ottawa. Paola opens play against Wellsville at 2:00 p.m. Friday, June 4, 2010 in pool play, and will continue play at 8:00 p.m. the same day as they take on Rossville. Play will continue on Saturday with a 3:30 p.m. game against Ozawkie and then conclude on Sunday with a 1:00 p.m. game against the Ottawa “A” squad and a final game against an opponent with a like record from the other pool.