Specht shines to send SMNW baseball past Lawrence High, 7-6, in extras
LAWRENCE — Going into Tuesday's road tilt with Lawrence High, the Shawnee Mission Northwest baseball team owned a 2-4 record in one-run games.
The Cougars didn't figure that mark would change as they took a four-run lead into the bottom of the seventh inning against Lawrence High, but the Lions roared back to tie it. After weathering the storm in the bottom of the seventh, George Specht delivered an RBI single in the top of the eighth to give the Cougars a 7-6 edge. The Lions put the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth, but Josh Mitchell notched the save.
"The guys have been playing hard. We've been in a lot of really close ballgames and most of them haven't went our way. To see them come out and battle and compete the way they did tonight was really nice to see," SM Northwest coach Domenic Mussat said. "Their pitchers were throwing well. They were making great defensive plays on us. We just happened to sneak away with that one extra one."
Specht's go-ahead single in the eighth was just a sliver of his productive all-around performance. The SM Northwest senior went 3-for-5 at the plate, and only allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits in 6.1 innings on the mound. Specht struck out seven and walked two in the hard-luck no decision.
"George has been awesome. He's really thrown well for us," Mussat said. "He's keeping the ball down and keeping us in all of the ballgames that he throws. He's just been doing a phenomenal job. We've been really impressed with how well he's been throwing."
The hard-throwing right-hander received also some high praise from Lawrence High coach Brad Stoll.
"He's one of the better arms we've seen," Stoll said. "I would say probably one of the top three we've seen all year."
A bunt single was all the Lions were able to muster against Specht through the first five innings. The Lions pushed two runs across in the sixth before knocking Specht out of the game with one out in the seventh — still trailing, 6-2. Lawrence put together a two-out rally with an RBI single from Payton Cummins, two-run single from Reese Carmona and tied it when Andrew Stewart scored from second on a wild pitch.
Carmona also advanced two bases on the wild pitch to move to third. The LHS senior tried to score on another wild pitch, but was thrown out at the plate.
The Cougars matched the Lions' aggressiveness on the base paths in the top of the eighth. Austin Bell led off the inning with a walk, and then advanced all the way to third on a sacrifice bunt from Alex Rice.
"Bell is a perfect nine-hole for us with his speed and the way he can get on base and his aggressiveness on the bases. That rolls us right back over to Rice at the top of the order with the speed that he's got," Mussat said. "His bunting and the handling he has with the bat has been really nice. Those two guys back-to-back is a pretty good luxury that we've got."
Bell scored from third on Specht's single. Jacob Ramirez joined Specht in going 3-for-5, and led the Cougars with two RBIs.
"He's just kind of a relaxed, cool kid. He sits up there, sees the ball and hits the ball," said Mussat of Ramirez. "He does a really nice job. He's nice and relaxed for us."
The Cougars (10-8) will be back on the diamond against Olathe South at 6 tonight at 3&2.
SMNW 000 103 21 — 7 12 1
LHS 000 002 4 — 6 5 1
W — Jordan Linderer. L — Riley Turpin. SV — Josh Mitchell.
2B — Jacob Ramirez, Josh Mitchell, Nikki Chomyak, George Specht, SMNW; Andrew Stewart, LHS.