GODFREY — A rare L&C defensive lapse resulted in a loss in the opening game of Thursday’s home doubleheader against John Wood College.
The Trailblazers made sure there was no repeat in the nightcap.
L&C rolled to a 12-2 victory in the second game of the Mid-West Athletic Conference game at L&C. That followed a frustrating 8-7 loss that featured five errors by L&C, including two in the second inning when JWC scored three times.
“Our defense has been really strong since we got back from the spring trip,” L&C coach Randy Martz said. “But it wasn’t in the first game (Friday). We came back in the second game and did much better though.”
The doubleheader sweep puts L&C at 14-11 overall and 8-6 in the MWAC.
The Trailblazers’ defense may have been cold then hot Friday, but Ashton Smith was on fire in both games. The freshman catcher from Du Quoin was seven-for-eight combined, including a four-for-four performance at the plate in the nightcap.
“(Smith) was definitely the hitting star of the day,” Martz said. “He had a great day.”
Smith was batting .375 prior to Friday’s games with three doubles and seven RBIs but Smith was pushed for that hitting star honor by an unlikely slugger, Yeison Serrata. The Trailblazers’ diminutive freshman second baseman from the Dominican Republic clouted a three-run home run in the fourth inning of the second game. L&C was already leading 6-2 at that point and his long ball put an exclamation point on things.
“It was our first home run by anyone at home,” Martz said. “It was a nice surprise and we’ll definitely take it.”
Quinton Kujawa a sophomore pitcher from Mount Vernon, went the distance in the second game. He scattered four hits, walked none and struck out six in the five-inning short game.
In the opener, the Trailblazers led 7-4 after four innings, but JWC chipped away at that lead with single runs in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
MWCC weekend series include back-to-back Friday-Saturday doubleheaders. The last three games are scheduled as seven-inning affairs, but the openers are nine-inning games.
That plan suited JWC just fine in Friday’s opener.
“If we had played seven innings like the other games, we win,” Martz said. “But that’s the way it goes. We had a chance, but shot ourselves in the foot with errors.”
Not only did the Trailblazers drop the first game, they lost outfielder Blake Vandiver for 10 days when he suffered a hand injury diving for a ball in the eighth inning.
Heading into Friday, Vandiver, a sophomore from Roxana High, was batting .333 with 26 RBIs, seven doubles, a triple and one home run.
Heading into Friday’s games, Hampton was 2-1 with a 4.23 earned-run average, Kujawa was 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA, Conner Pinsker was 2-2 and Zach Seavers was 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA.
“Our top four starters have panned out pretty well,” Martz said, “and our defense has played good, except for the first game today. But we need our bullpen to finish games.
“We needed that second game,” he said. “The first game was frustrating.”
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