And if you were grading Field hurler Kody

By Eric Clutter Record-Courier staff writer Published:

And if you were grading Field hurler Kody Lantz's performance against the Southeast Pirates in Monday's New Middletown Springfield Division II sectional championship game at Field High School, you would have to give him an A.

Lantz gave up eight hits and two walks over six innings of work, but was able to slam the door when he needed to as the Falcons slipped past the Pirates 4-3 to advance to the district semifinals.

"This feels great. The kids really came through," said Field coach Larry Wiles. "They all played well."

Lantz (6-1) threw shutout ball against the Pirates (8-12) through the first five innings, but encountered problems in the sixth, thanks primarily to poor defense.

Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Southeast's Jim Sutcliffe (two hits) tried to ignite a rally by beating out an infield hit.

But this didn't phase Lantz, who proceeded to retire the next two hitters, leaving Sutcliffe at second base.

Southeast, which stranded nine runners on the basepaths, then got a clutch base hit off the bat of Justin Litzenburg that plated the Pirates' first run of the afternoon. Josh Massrock kept the inning alive with a single up the middle, putting runners on first and second.

Lantz appeared to get out of the inning when he induced Carl Dorris to hit a grounder to second. However, the throw to Lantz, who was covering first, got away, scoring Litzenburg and allowing the other two runners to advance to second and third.

Ryan Groves then slapped a routine grounder to third that was mishandled for another error, which let in the third run of the inning and put Southeast on the brink of tying the game.

That was all the Pirates got, however, as Lantz struck out the next batter to end the threat.

Jason McBroom then entered the game in relief of Lantz to start the bottom of the seventh and struck out the side to earn the save.

Southeast coach Dave Clegg noted the missed opportunities as the downfall of his club.

"We left nine guys on base," he said. "When you get guys in scoring position in big games, you have to do something to come through. We haven't. Why, I don't know."

The Pirates' best scoring chance prior to their sixth-inning uprising came in the fifth, when Lantz sandwiched a pair of walks around a Dorris single. That threat was thwarted when Lantz recorded two strikeouts to end the inning. At the time it was a 1-0 pitcher's duel.

"We got great, great pitching from Lantz and McBroom," said Wiles. "(Lantz) has pitched well for us. I'd say this is probably his best outing."

While his two strikeouts in the fifth were perhaps the turning point of the game, Lantz also provided the key hit of the game when he singled in two runs during a three-run Field uprising in the top half of the fifth.

Pinch-hitter Butch Sisson's single with one out got things rolling for the Falcons. A walk and a wild pitch followed, placing two runners in scoring position and setting the stage for Lantz, who eventually came around to score on Jason Stein's double.

In the second inning, Stein scored the game's first run when he reached on a walk, stole second and was driven home by Chris Flack's double to center.

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