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Lone Tree junior Jovonte Squiers stepped to the plate with one out in the bottom of the sixth in a game tied 3-3 with Winfield Mt.Union on Tuesday. Squiers squared up the first pitch he saw, driving the baseball into the gap in left center and over the fence on one hop. The ground-rule double scored Trey Pierson from first base to give the Lions the lead for good on the way to a 5-3 win in the first round of the district playoffs.
“Trey had a good at bat, and then Jovonte had the big double,” Coach Steve Gibson recalled. “I’m happy for Jovonte, because he hasn’t really been in sync at the plate like he has been in the past.”
“For him to get a good swing and drive in Trey was big for us, and it was big for him.”
Squiers advanced to second on a single from Avery Knock and scored when Dawson Swails reached base on an error with two outs.
After a fly ball and a single in the seventh, Ross Swinton struck out the final two batters to end the game. Swinton allowed three runs on five hits and four walks, striking out nine.
Swinton ran into trouble in the second inning, when the Wolves loaded the bases on two walks and a single with just one out in the inning. After a visit to the mound from Coach Gibson, Swinton struck out the next two batters to escape the jam.
“Just wanted to settle him down a little bit,” Coach Gibson explained.
“It’s a first round district and really he hasn’t pitched a lot in the last couple weeks. His last three starts have been rained out basically.”
“I wouldn’t say he was perfect by any means, but he was still throwing hard and keeping them off balance with the curveball. Sometimes he just gets a little too jacked up at the beginning of games and I just wanted to go out and settle him down. I thought overall he pitched really well for us.”
Swinton kept the Wolves off of the scoreboard for five innings. However, the game was still scoreless in the middle of the fifth as Lone Tree left six runners on base, including runners at second and third in the second inning.
Greg Feldman’s leadoff single sparked the offense in the fifth. After Squiers sacrificed to move Feldman into scoring position, singles from Knock, Sam Fuhrmeister and Swails put Lone Tree up 2-0. Swinton reached on an RBI fielder’s choice to extend the lead.
WMU answered with three runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game, leading to Squiers go-ahead double in the bottom half of the inning.
Squiers finished 1-1 with two walks and a steal, and Dawson Swails had the only multi-hit game, finishing 2-4.
Highland 10, Lone Tree 0
After defeating Highland in extra innings in each of the last two postseasons, the magic ran out for Lone Tree in a 10-0 loss in the district semifinals on Thursday.
Avery Knock was 2-2 for Lone Tree, while Bryce Houser was 1-1 with a walk. Lone Tree had a runner in scoring position three times, but couldn’t get a key hit to drive in a run.
Highland’s Chase Rath was 3-3 and allowed just two hits in four innings on the mound. Caleb Brase was 3-3, and Spencer Wieland drew three walks and scored three runs for the Huskies who improved to 22-6 with the win.
The Lions were 5-8 after a 13-0 loss to Mediapolis on June 14, but went 6-5 over the last month of the season to finish 11-13.
“We had to replace quite a few seniors from last year,” Coach Gibson explained.
“We knew going in that there were going to be a lot of new faces and maybe a little rebuilding. We had a lot of injuries and it seemed like between the injuries and guys being gone at different times we were really scrambling for a lineup in the early part of the season.”
“I thought in the last week or two when things finally settled down and we got guys back from injury… I thought we were playing our best ball here in the last couple weeks and that’s what you want to see, so I was proud of the guys for that.”
Lone Tree underclassmen accounted for over 93% of the Lion’s hits and every pitch thrown during the 2016 season.