Arrows’ inconsistent play leads to split

Greg Mast
Ottawa Arrows catcher Antonio Espinosa fist bumps with Ryan Laurie after scoring a run against Topeka on Saturday at Harvey M. Drake field. Espinosa spearheaded the offense with a couple of hits in Ottawa's 11-3 victory.

The Ottawa Arrows are searching for more consistent play after its first week of action.

The Ottawa American Legion baseball team flashed enough good plays Saturday to a split a triangular with Topeka and Iola at Harvey M. Drake field.

Ottawa rolled past the Topeka Senators, 11-3, in five innings. The Arrows fell to Iola, 13-2, in the second game.

Coaches and players felt perplexed by the lack of consistent play.

“We struggled in the second game,” Arrows coach Kyle Altic said. “Lots of walks and hits while we were on the mound. Lots of strikeouts when we were hitting.

“Against Topeka, we played well. We did the things we did not do in the second game. We have to get it figured out. I was looking for more of what we had in the first game.”

Catcher Antonio Espinosa said the Arrows played with a different mentality in the games.

“We get too lackadaisical (against Iola),” Espinosa said. “We won the first one and expected to come out and win the next one. It is not how it works.”

Part of the story is the lack of time on the diamond with the spring season axed by COVID-19 concerns.

“We are knocking the rust off,” Espinosa said. “It has been hard. You were sitting at home for 2.5 months not doing anything. We are now getting back into it.”

Altic said the players have made strides, but there is room for a whole lot more.

“It will take time,” he said. “It will come back.”

The Ottawa bats found success against the Senators, ripping line drives.

“It felt pretty good,” Espinosa said. “I was glad we were able to string some hits together. I hope we can do that Tuesday when we go down to Emporia and play them again. Once we got things to go our way, we had more energy.”

The players are attempting to become acquainted with each other’s game.

“There is a lot of us new to the team,” Espinosa said. “We have to communicate even though we don’t know each other that well.”

The catchers also are learning on the fly the pitchers’ strengths.

“You have to learn what they throw, what their frequencies are, what their off-speeds do and how they mix everything up,” Espinosa said. “Nobody has pitched for a while. It has been tough for them to get into a groove. Everybody’s arms are getting sore.”

Ottawa (1-3) plays two doubleheaders this week. The Arrows play 6 p.m. Tuesday at Emporia, which swept Ottawa in the season opener. Ottawa returns home 6 p.m. Friday against Garnett.

Arrows first baseman Lane Altic attempts to dig out a low throw to secure an out against Iola in the second game of Saturday's triangular.