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baseball1Good teams play their best baseball when it counts. Lansing's 14U Bobcats bounced back from a rough final week of the regular season to sweep two playoff games in the Quad County Babe Ruth 14U playoffs and capture the championship.

Lansing entered the playoffs as the number one seed. With former Ithaca College baseball player Tony Prudence at the helm as head coach, the Bobcats cruised to a 9-3-1 regular season record. But in the season's last week, the Bobcats dropped their final games to Dryden and Ithaca 14U squads—the very two teams Lansing would face in the playoffs.

Tuesday July 26: Lansing 12, Ithaca 3 Lansing starting pitcher Gil Richardson took the mound in the opening game, retiring Ithaca in order to set the tone. The Bobcats then roared to a big lead in the bottom-half of the first. Anthony Ruquet got the scoring started with a base hit to drive in two runs, then Brad Lehr followed with a booming triple that plated Ruquet. Later in the first set, Jake Brotherton knocked a single to score two more runs. After Lansing batted through the order, they had a controlling 9-0 lead.

Richardson (who would be credited as the winning pitcher) cruised through his first three innings before yielding to pitcher Anders Axelson, who came in to close out the game and notch six strikeouts in the final four innings.

A.J. Prudence reached base three times in the game, with a single and two runs scored. Ruquet finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, while Lehr finished 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. Richardson reached base twice and scored two runs, while Brotherton reached base twice with 2 RBI and a run scored. Sean O'Callaghan went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, and Gabe Santiago went 1-for-3 with a run scored. Jack Collins finished with a double and a run scored, while Kobee Watts contributed an RBI and Connor Watts scored a run.

Wednesday July 27: Lansing 7, Dryden 3 In the championship game at the Lansing varsity field, it was Dryden that got out to a quick start in the top of the 1st with a couple hits that drove in a run. But staff ace and starting pitcher Sean O'Callaghan quickly settled into his groove, inducing a tapper back to the mound for the second out and then retiring the side on a caught-looking strikeout.

Unlike the prior night, the Bobcat bats were slow to get going, with no hits through the first two innings. Then in the bottom of the third Kobee Watts took one for the team and made Dryden pay for it, taking first base on a hit-by-pitch then stealing second and taking third on a wild pitch. Conner Watts then executed a perfect bunt to bring Lansing's first run home. The next batter, Jake Brotherton, drew a walk, and Gil Richardson and A.J. Prudence followed up with a pair of base hits. By the end of 3rd inning, the Bobcats had taken a 4-2 lead.

O'Callaghan retired Dryden 1-2-3 in the top of the 4th, finishing his day on the mound with four K's and getting the win. Anthony Ruquet came on to pitch two shutout innings of relief in his no-nonsense, fire-balling style, before Anders Axelson came on in the 7th—mixing 4-seam and 2-seam fastballs for a couple of quick strikeouts. Axelson induced a pop-out to second baseman Jacob Ouelette, who caught the final out Pablo Sandoval-style to secure the championship for his team. A mass celebration ensued, with every water bottle emptied on teammates' heads to christen the Quad County Babe Ruth 14U championship.

Kobee Watts led team scoring with 3 runs. Gil Richardson finished with two hits and a run scored, while A.J. Prudence had a hit and run scored and Ruquet had an RBI. Jack Collins and Jake Brotherton also scored runs.

Closer Anders Axelson credited his coach for the Bobcats' successful run through the playoffs: "I think Coach Prudence was an amazing coach who brought out the best in us. In batting practice, he would not let up on throwing fastballs to help us with our timing.

"One of my favorite sayings from Coach Prudence was, 'Remember my friend Moe, and how it stands for momentum. Well, I want to see my friend in all of you out there on the ball field.'"

Moe was in Lansing for playoff week, and the hope is that he becomes a fixture on this young baseball team.

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