As the temperatures heat up, so, too, has the Junction City Brigade’s offense.
The Brigade (9-4) slammed their way through the first four games of a homestand this weekend, sweeping the Ottawa River Bandits by a combined score of 47-11, then using an Aaron Samaniego grand slam to propel a comeback over the Kansas City Monarchs, 11-7, Sunday in a non-league game.
“I’m proud of the way we played this weekend,” head coach Derek Francis said after sweeping the homestand, 4-0.
On Sunday, the Brigade and Monarchs were involved in a pitching duel for the first five innings of the game, with the Monarchs leading 4-2 heading into the top of the sixth. That’s when the Brigade bats exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the sixth, capped by Samaniego’s pinch-hit grand slam and Parker Dunn’s RBI groundout.
Grant Goldston also added a two-run home run in the seventh to help lead the offense.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Blake Burrows had four RBI, and Grady Davenport and Carson Rexroad had three hits each as the Brigade cruised past the Ottawa River Bandits, 16-6.
The Brigade did all that despite temperatures that, during the day, rivaled triple digits, and still inched close to 90 at first pitch.
Francis and the coaching staff, though, took precautions to make sure players didn’t fall victim to the heat.
“(Sunday), we didn’t hit batting practice before the game,” Francis said. “We just tried to give them a little more of a break before the game, and to keep the bodies fresh since we’re playing six days in a row.”
After starting off the season 0-3, the Brigade have now won nine of their last 10 games.
Junction City concludes its five-game homestand Monday when it hosts Baldwin City in the first half of a home-and-away series. They play in Baldwin City tomorrow. Then, after an off-day, the Brigade travel to Ottawa for a three-game set. It’s the first extended road trip for the Brigade; Francis hopes different venues won’t change the Brigade’s style of play.
“We want to go out there and play the same kind of baseball you have been playing,” he said. “It is going to be a little different, though. We’ve been at home for so long, it feels like.
“I think these guys will handle it just fine.”