COUNCIL BLUFFS — Some teams get lucky breaks. Others manufacture their own luck.
And the difference can be one swing of the bat.
Sioux City East created its own fortune Friday evening to claim the first game of a doubleheader against Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln 6-2. A late power surge to break open a one-run contest carried over into a mercy-rule shortened second game, which East won 11-1 in five innings.
The Lynx (11-17) stifled the Black Raiders early, coupling good pitching with solid defense. Abraham Lincoln put enough balls in play in the first six innings, capitalizing on two errors to score two runs on five hits to take a 2-1 lead heading into the final inning.
“We were forcing them to make plays,” Lynx senior Connor Gann said. “If you do that, good things will happen for your team.”
Meanwhile, East (19-7) made a litany of mistakes. A runner was cut down at home on a botched double steal. Another runner leading off too far was tagged out on a ground ball to third. The Black Raiders' two errors led to both of Abraham Lincoln's runs.
“We didn't come out swinging very well — easy ground balls, pop ups,” East coach Jared Ocker said. “We were definitely lucky to be in that game.”
Two outs from defeat, however, East made its own luck.
Senior Tyler Franko turned on a hanging curveball from Gann — who said Franko “flat-out beat” him — and lifted a high fly ball to left that got an assist from the wind.
“I didn't know if it would (carry),” Franko said. “It felt good off the bat.”
His hit cleared the tall left-field fence at Lincoln Field by inches to score two runs and gave the Black Raiders their first lead at 3-2.
“I told Tyler, 'I think that ball scraped the fence coming down,'” Ocker said.
The home run sparked East to a five-run inning, including another homer — this time, a no-doubter by Hayden Godfrey — for an exclamation point on the rally.
The big hits kept coming for East in the second game — and took the wind out of the Lynx's sails.
“We were leaving balls up, and they were hitting them out,” Abraham Lincoln coach James Larsen said. “That kind of affects your attitude in the field, your position on the mound.”
The Black Raiders scored five runs in the third inning on five consecutive two-out hits to blow open the game. East added two more towering home runs to clinch the win.
East swept both doubleheaders against the Lynx this season, using big bats to top Abraham Lincoln by at least four runs in each win.
“Momentum, our kids feed off that,” Ocker said. “We string two or three hits together, and our confidence builds.”
Sioux City East ........................... 000 100 5—6 9 2
At CB Abraham Lincoln ........................... 001 001 0—2 5 1
W: Camarigg. L: Gann. 2B: CBAL, Gann, McDermott. HR: SCE, T. Franko, Godfrey.
Sioux City East (19-7) ........................... 225 20—11 15 2
At Abraham Lincoln (11-17) ........................... 100 00—1 6 0
W: Godfrey. L: Powers. 2B: SCE, Thompson-Williams, Carlson, T. Franko, S. Franko. HR: SCE, Jacob Westphal, Jace Lapierre.