Augusta and Circle baseball split doubleheader

Ethan Denton

AUGUSTA, Kansas—Both the Augusta Oriole and Circle T-Bird baseball teams have had solid seasons up to this point and each was looking to grab significant momentum heading to the end of the regular season. 

When they matched up for a doubleheader on Thursday at Rodney Wheeler Stadium, it was the Orioles who made the big plays and took advantage of mistakes by the T-Birds to pull away for an 11-2 win. To the visitors’ credit, they shook off the first game and overcame a late deficit to claim an 8-5 victory in the second game to salvage a split. Augusta is now 13-5 overall and Circle is 12-6. Both are 6-4 in league play.

The teams have faced stiff competition throughout in AVCTL-III and the hope is that these kinds of battles will better prepare them for the postseason lurking just around the corner.

Circle has been led most of the season by their pitching staff and in game two, got gutsy efforts from their pair of Jakes to pick up a big win.

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“Jake Shaults and Jake Hagemann, we’re going to ride them until they can’t go anymore,” Circle head coach Matt Jordan said. “Even though they didn’t throw as well as they wanted to, they stayed tough mentally and they battled, and we got the job done.”

If the T-Birds are to maximize the rest of their season, they will need not just the strong pitching efforts, but also a better approach at the plate.

“Our two-strike approach needs to be better,” Jordan said. “I think as a team when we get to two strikes we’re still trying to hit home runs. We have to understand that (Augusta) scored four runs that first game off of groundballs with two strikes and I don’t think we did that at all in the first game.”

Conversely, the Orioles dominated the first game after falling behind 2-0 by scoring 11 unanswered runs. Augusta played a clean first game, but were not able to do enough to win the second.

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“We were a little flat coming out in the second game,” Augusta head coach Garan Qualls said. “That’s not an excuse because we have to be ready to play. When we have the big inning we can’t go back out there and give up a big inning because that’s just a momentum killer.”

The positives for the Orioles included a good pitching performance from freshman lefty Ben Brittain in the opener. He surrendered just two runs in five innings before Sebastian Flower closed it out. Eight combined runs in the 5th and 6th innings put the game away. Going forward, it is simply a matter of putting it all together at the same time for Augusta.

“Every day we’re just trying to get better at everything,” Qualls said. “It’s good that we’re playing some of these better teams now so we can see the better arms so we’re ready to go come regional time.”

Augusta 11, Circle 2

CIR 020 000 0 - 2;5;4

AUG 003 044 X - 11;12;1

W – Brittain. L – Maholland.

Circle 8, Augusta 5

CIR 102 005 0 - 8;6;0

AUG 100 040 0 - 5;8;1

W – Shaults. L – Flower.