Ottawa (5-0) has yet to click together in certain team aspects through the first give games.
“We’re young, but at some point we have to grow up,” Long said. “We can’t get much better as far as effort, but we need things to start clicking.
“It’s a short time between the beginning of the season and the end of postseason play. We need to be aggressive in making strides.”
Ottawa swept two doubleheaders this week, but the level of play was inconsistent.
Ottawa defeated Gardner Sunday at Ottawa University, 15-0 in three innings and 9-7. On Tuesday, Ottawa topped Emporia at Soden’s Grove, 11-6 and 12-7.
Brock Huddlestun tossed a three-inning no-hitter in the opener against Gardner. He allowed one base runner on a hit-by-pitch.
Huddlestun was efficient with first-ball strikes on nine of the 10 batters he faced. He threw 29 strikes out of 35 pitches.
“Brock’s success was getting ahead of the batter,” Long said. “It’s hard to hit when you’re always trailing in the count. He was in the zone all day from both aspects [offensively and defensively].
“Our approach to the game was much more acceptable than what was exhibited during the shortened Topeka game.”
Clayton Evans had two hits, three runs scored and two RBIs.
Ottawa displayed its scrappiness to win the nightcap.
“We need to find the strike zone on a consistent basis,” Long said. “It was a stark contrast from the first game, but we have a scrappy bunch of players. That scrappy approach makes teams better, but we can’t rely on it.”
Driesten Aho was the winning pitcher and Evans picked up the save.
Kody Mitchell and Aaron Collins had two RBIs each.
Matt Hogelin took a fastball to the helmet, but he was OK.
The pinch-runner scored the eventual winning run.
Ottawa waited until the seventh inning to take control of Tuesday’s opener in Emporia. Ottawa scored seven runs in the seventh inning.
Drew Bones and Mitchell combined to hold Emporia to one run after the second inning. Ottawa trailed 5-2 after three innings.
“We were not sharp at all,” Long said. “We made a couple of bonehead mistakes that shouldn’t be made by players that have already had a season of high school ball under their belt. My blood pressure was elevated because we had guys watching their hits instead of running, missing signs on the bases, and just a distracted, no energy effort.
“We won because Kody came in throwing strikes and Drew picked up where he left off and took it to the finish line.”
Trenton Ferguson was 3-for-4 and Evans and Grant Maxwell had two RBIs each.
The nightcap saw both teams strikeout a lot in a three-hour marathon. Ferguson, the winning pitcher, had nine strikeouts and Evans, who had the save, added four. Ottawa drew 11 walks and struck out 10 times.
“Mentally we were much more focused,” Long said. “It was a pretty inconsistent zone both ways and the game took way too long. It was ugly, but we got the job done.”