In baseball, momentum is a funny thing. It can change with one swing of the bat or the flash of a lightning bolt.
For the Junction City Brigade (14-7), they experienced both ends of the momentum pendulum this weekend.
In a key matchup with the Topeka Golden Giants (16-7), the Brigade came back in the eighth and ninth innings to win game one 7-6, then lost the second game 10-5. In the final game of the series, the Brigade led 8-4 after five innings, but the Golden Giants scored eight runs in the final three innings — after a lengthy lightning delay — to steal victory from the Brigade, 13-9.
As of Monday morning, when the Mid-Plains League began a four-day respite in advance of Thursday’s All-Star Game, the Brigade trail the Golden Giants by one game in the MPL West Division.
And with so many games remaining, head coach Derek Francis knows there is plenty of time to make up ground and finish strong.
“The biggest thing is getting into the playoffs,” he said. “You’d like to be the one (seed), but if you’re not, you’re still OK.”
The key, he said, is to make sure you’re playing your best baseball, something he hopes his players continue to do in the weeks ahead.
“We just need good pitching,” he said. “I don’t think there’s going to be one guy we rely on heavily. We hope everyone has their stuff, has good games, and then (we) go from there.”
To prepare for that, the Brigade will have a few days off. The Brigade won’t practice again until Thursday — and their next game is Friday when they start a three-game set with Sabetha (8-14).
Junction City jumped out to an early 7-3 lead over Topeka Saturday thanks to the longball. With the Brigade trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the first, Will Jordan hit his first home run of the season, and Grady Davenport later doubled home Aaron Samaniego. In the second, Jordan doubled, scoring two runs, and Tanner Holen followed with his second home run in three games.
The Brigade added a run in the fifth on a Jordan’s single, and it looked as if the Brigade would cruise to a victory. But then, lightning struck — literally.
In the top of the sixth, lightning in the area delayed the game for close to 45 minutes. After that, Topeka mounted its comeback.
“We came out flat afterwards,” Francis said. “It ultimately showed when they outscored us 8-1 after the delay.”
The Golden Giants scored three runs in the seventh, four more in the eighth and added one in the ninth. Junction City tried to mount a comeback
in the bottom of the ninth, as the first two batters reached. But the next three batters grounded out, with Davenport stranding Will Jordan on third base.
Despite the outcome, Francis isn’t too worried about how things turned out.
“I wasn’t too disappointed this weekend,” he said. “We have some time to work on some things and get ready to roll for the playoffs."