The Hannibal Legion Post 55 A team pulled off a triple play Tuesday en route to a 14-4 win at Clemens Field.
The Hannibal Legion Post 55 A baseball team was in a bind Tuesday night and needed to pull an escape act during a 14-4 victory over West O'Fallon at Clemens Field.
As Hannibal clung to a 5-4 lead in the fifth inning, the visitors loaded the bases with nobody out.
A triple play came to Post 55's rescue.
Third baseman Corder Lehenbauer snagged a sharp liner out of the air for the first out and beat the lead runner back to the third-base bag for the second. The Palmyra native then fired the ball across the diamond to teammate Jerry Cunningham to pick the runner off first for the final out.
“That was huge,” said Hannibal manager Brian Stone of the defensive gem. “It was looking a little shaky there, and then all of a sudden, that was the turning point right there.”
What happened immediately following the triple play was perhaps equally unlikely.
“It was pretty cool because as soon as that happened, it started pouring down rain and then a rainbow came over the top of the stadium,” Stone said. “I told the kids, 'Look at that rainbow. That's a sign that we're going to win this game now.' And sure enough.”
Hannibal capitalized on its momentum and scored nine runs in the bottom of the frame to enforce the mercy rule.
Spencer Locke, who finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs, provided the brunt of the damage. After reaching on an error, Locke came around to score the first run of the inning on a wild pitch.
Kaden Malone singled home Cunningham with a hit to left field before Cooper Hinkle delivered a two-RBI single to center that scored Charlie Hirner and Malone to open up a 9-4 advantage.
Locke returned to the plate and launched a three-RBI double to center field that brought home Hinkle, Chase Kirby and Garrett Stone to make it 12-4.
“(Locke) really came through good,” coach Stone said. “The one that really broke the game open was into right-center. He got all of it for a bases-clearing double there.”
Hirner drove in two runs with a single on a fly ball to right field, giving Hannibal a 10-run lead to put an end to the contest.
Logan Astorino started on the mound for Post 55 and earned the win. He allowed four earned runs over 2 2/3 innings while striking out five. Malone entered in relief during the third inning and shut out O'Fallon over the final 2 1/3 frames.
Hannibal jumped out ahead with a four-run first inning. Lehenbauer brought home Hinkle with an RBI groundout for the first run of the contest. Astorino scored on a wild pitch; Locke doubled home Kirby; and Cunningham hit a sacrifice fly to score Stone. Malone raced home on a wild pitch in the second inning to make it 5-0.
But West O'Fallon countered with four runs in the third inning to apply pressure. The visitors drew three straight walks to start the inning and ultimately clawed to within one run down.
“When we got up 5-0, the kids kind of let up and relaxed a little bit,” Stone admitted. “That let them back into the game. Once we get a team down, we've got to put them away.”
The Post 55 squad responded to Stone's message with its offensive barrage in the fifth that sealed the deal.
“I was really proud of the way our kids performed,” he said.
Hannibal plays St. Charles on the road at 6 p.m. on Friday and faces St. Peters immediately following the first game.
Post 55 then travels to Wright City on Saturday for a doubleheader against Warrenton before hosting St. Clair on Sunday afternoon for a pair of games at Clemens Field.