Four RBI effort lifts Aurora Red to consecutive victories
Chase Phillips put work in on Saturday, getting some extra swings in to try and find his sweet spot and his confidence at the dish.
The sweet spot was ripped apart during a sweltering Sunday afternoon.
Phillips recorded a pair of two-run RBI doubles for the Aurora Cooperative Red squad to help defeat the Pinnacle Bank White team 10-4 in game two of the Aurora Legion COVID Series.
With the win Sunday, the Aurora Cooperative Red team coached by Bodie Moeller took a 2-0 lead in the series over Jeremy Burgener’s Pinnacle Bank White team.
Both coaches praised the effort of Phillips to get some extra hacks in, noting he took the initiative to want to get better.
“Last week, Chase apologized and said that he never hits like that,” Burgener said through a grin. “He came out and hit really well today. He had a really good attitude and a lot of confidence at the plate.”
Crossing friendly enemy lines, it was coach Burgener who lent a hand to Phillips in the cage and those efforts were on full display for fans strung throughout the outfield fence.
“I have to thank Coach B on that one,” Moeller said with a smile. “We were looking for his confidence at the plate and it paid off. He had two clutch hit for us.”
Phillips’ two-run double in the top of the first was the highlight for the Aurora Cooperative Red team, but not its only runs scored.
AC Red pushed across a total of four runs in the top half of the first, adding two more on errors from the Pinnacle Bank White team.
“We were aggressive at the beginning of the game and it paid off,” Moeller pointed out. “I was really hoping to set the tone in this one because I figured the White team would want some revenge from last week. Getting out to a lead made us more comfortable the rest of the game.”
The PB Whites got one back in the bottom half as Cayden Phillips notched a RBI fielder’s choice, cutting the lead to 4-1 after one.
A chance to blow the game open in the bottom half of the second for the Pinnacle Bank White team was there.
In a wild sequence with runners at the corners and one out, Max Wiarda stole second as Layton Hohm took off for home. Wiarda was safe at second, but the AC Red team gunned down Hohm at the plate to keep a run off the board.
Wiarda would later score on a passed ball before Wyatt James did the same after a walk, cutting the Aurora Cooperative Red’s lead to 4-3.
While the second inning could have been much bigger for the Pinnacle Bank Whites, Burgener was pleased the team responded so positively after a slow start.
“We had a better sense of urgency today,” Burgener said. “We were a bit flat after the first and got on a few guys but after that, we played a lot more focused. Now, we just have to eliminate those first inning hiccups.”
Aurora Cooperative Red responded by loading the bases with no one out in the third as Chase Phillips struck again with a timely two-run RBI double, extending the lead to 6-3.
After a pitching change, PB White brought on Brady Collingham to throw, who struck out the next three batters to get out of the inning.
Combined for the Pinnacle Bank White team, the pitching staff struck out 12 compared to three walks, which was much improved over last week and something Burgener saw as a positive.
“We threw a lot more strikes today,” he noted. “We still probably walked too many guys but it didn’t make the game drag on.”
PB White got another run back in the bottom of the third with a fielder’s choice from Trevor Moeller to score Collingham, who started the inning with a loud double to center.
Aurora Cooperative Red blew it open in the fourth with its second four-run inning, including a couple well-placed hits.
After scoring its first run on an error, Marlatt and Kyle Larson each slapped a bloop single to right with Marlatt driving in a pair and Larson a third, extending the lead to 10-4. Those timely
Those timely hits were key, according to Moeller, as well as the AC Red pitching staff locating its pitches even better than week one.
“We swung at a lot better pitches today,” Moeller said. “Our pitching stayed pretty consistent and even added velocity. We can move them around, too, and not just throw meatballs over the plate.”
There were zero runs scored in the game after the top half of the fourth, but it was a what-could-have-been for the Pinnacle Bank White team in the fifth.
AC Red’s Connor Smith walked the bases loaded and one out as Moeller brought in the firey Havens to get out of a jam.
That’s what he did, striking out Moeller before making Cam Jones fly out to end the inning, its 10-4 lead still intact.
“We did a good job of controlling what we could control,” Moeller said. “The balls that were hit to us turned into outs and that was the big thing.”
For Burgener, its just a matter of finding that clutch hit that the AC Red team has had for two games, but not so much for the PB White.
“We’re just missing a timely hit,” Burgener pointed out. “It was kind of like last week. We were always hitting it right at someone and ended an inning early.”
Havens was near perfect on the mound Sunday, throwing 2-2/3 innings with zero runs or hits allowed with three strikeouts and no walks.
“Havens throws a good fireball and he’s our saving grace at times,” Moeller noted. “We know what we’re going to get with Havens -- he’s going to throw strikes.”
Cayden Phillips and Cam Jones finished the game on the mound for the Pinnacle Bank White team, throwing three innings with four strikeouts and three hits combined.
“Later on when they put Cayden (Phillips) in to pitch, he throws some heat and it seemed like we got a bit nervous,” Moeller said. “Some of your young guys haven’t seen pitching like that. We sprayed the ball a bit at the end and just have to make sure to not let the firepower intimidate us.”
Even though the Pinnacle Bank White team couldn’t rally late, Burgener saw plenty of positives from the game, noting the competitiveness throughout and how quickly things moved along.
“Our game speed was great today. We showed up focused and finished the game in two hours instead of three,” Burgener explained. “That’s attributed to less walks, more aggressive at-bats and people being focused.”
Aside from Chase Phillips, Larson and Jayden Quandt each had two hits in the game while Marlatt had two RBIs for the Aurora Cooperative Red team.
Game three of the Aurora Legion COVID Series is slated for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to sit around the outfield fence as the main gate will be closed to the public.
‘I have to thank Coach B on that one. We were looking for his confidence at the plate and it paid off. He had two clutch hits for us.’
Bodie Moeller, Aurora Coop Red coach