By KEVIN THOMPSON
LAKIN — If Lakin coach Steve Davidson could have scheduled Wichita Independent any other day than opening day, he’s not sure if the outcome would have been different, but he’s pretty sure his Broncs would have performed better.
As it was, the Panthers had little trouble in spoiling Lakin’s season opener with a doubleheader sweep, 20-2 and 17-2, at Louck’s Municipal Park.
After Independent scored 18 unanswered runs in the first game, Davidson looked to see how his team would respond in the second game.
Unfortunately, it took 17 more Panther runs and 10 more innings before Lakin scored again.
It wasn’t the type of opening day the Broncs wanted, but it was a tough Panther squad they faced and a team that finished third in Class 3A state last year with a 23-2 record.
“Too many errors. Too many plays that were routine that we didn’t make. That’s the part that upsets me,” Davidson said.
He was referring to the nine errors from his team.
“Too many pop ups that should have been caught. Things we’ve worked on in practice the last couple weeks,” he explained.
Independent started the second game the way they ended the first, scoring four runs on three hits, leaving the bases loaded but leading 4-0.
They added three more in the third on three hits, and then poured it on with eight runs in the sixth, sending 13 batters to the plate.
Lakin finally got on the board with back-to-back doubles in the sixth, but it was a hollow victory after what carried over from game one to that moment.
Down 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning of the season, Lakin showed some offensive life when they scored two runs on a Matt Armstrong double and a Ryder Yakel triple.
But they only managed one hit off starter Michael Kay, who went the distance, striking out eight Lakin batters.
Yakel started for the Broncs and pitched well, Davidson said, but the defense didn’t do him any favors.
“The first seven runs they get, if we make some plays, they don’t get those runs,” Davidson said. “That’s the worst part about the mistakes we’re making; we’re making our pitchers throw 15, 20 extra pitches an inning. This early in the year, we can’t do that.”
Last season, Lakin fell 7-2 and 4-0 to Independent, but that was then, and this is now. Now, Davidson said, his team is younger and less experienced, and that will be the challenge to overcome as the season progresses.
“It’s a matter of their confidence,” Davidson said. “I told the kids baseball’s not a nice game. If you make a mistake, it is going to find you. So you’ve got to grit your teeth and want the ball to come to you.”
Independent had 28 hits in the 11 innings played, including a 6 for 8 day from catcher Blaine Wood and three doubles from Tanner Cairns, who also got the win in game two.
Armstrong’s two doubles for the day accounted for two of just seven Lakin hits. Cairns struck out six and picked off the leadoff runners in both of the first two innings.
Kay pitched all five innings in the first game and Cairns the first five of the second. Lakin, on the other hand, used six pitchers.
Still, with a long season to go, Davidson is optimistic his team can turn things around. They play Syracuse and Ulysses next week.
Wichita Ind. 233 57 — 20 13 0
Lakin 200 00 — 2 3 6
Kay and Wood. Yakel, Hill (4), Armstrong (5) and McAtee. W—Kay (1-0), L—Yakel (0-1). 2B--Ind., Cairns 2, Kay, Wood, Springer; Lakin, Armstrong. 3B—Lakin, Yakel.
Wichita Ind. 403 208 — 17 15 1
Lakin 000 002 — 2 4 3
Ind.—Cairns, Brzon (6) and Wood; Lakin—Miller, Seeger (4), McAtee (6) and Armstrong. WP—Cairns (1-0), LP—Miller (0-1). 2B—Ind., Carns, Newman; Lakin, Klassen, Armstrong. 3B—Ind., Wood.