Home Federal did something it might not have been able to do earlier this season – win a game with its bats.
In the first game of a home weekend, Home Federal overcame a rare shaky defensive outing by pounding out 15 hits.
That resulted in a 14-6 victory over DJ’s Dugout (Bellevue East) in six innings at Ryder Park.
Home Federal (13-14) was coming in off a nine-hit performance in the second game of a doubleheader sweep at North Platte on Wednesday.
Prior to that, the team had a combined 14 hits over its previous five games against Class A competition.
“We’re starting to see the ball well,” Home Federal coach Jake Ritzdorf said. “You can’t take anything away from 15 hits, so I’m glad the guys hit the ball well because we needed it tonight. We won this one with the bats, no doubt about it.”
Practice is paying off according to cleanup hitter Blake Leiting, who went 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs.
“We’ve just been working on hitting in practice,” Leiting said. “Normally our fielding is phenomenal, so we’ve been working on our hitting. Obviously today fielding wasn’t our best, but good thing that we were able to hit.
“After being no-hit not too long ago, it’s nice to put up 15 hits, put the ball in play and show that game was a fluke.”
Home Federal led 5-0 after two innings with three of the runs coming on RBI groundouts. Those are runners who likely would have been stranded during previous weeks when the team was struggling to make contact.
“When we get guys on second and third and there are less than two outs, a groundball is a productive out,” Ritzdorf said. “An RBI is an RBI is an RBI. Any way that we can get them, we’re going to take them.
“Contact is huge, and you don’t get those kinds of things with strikeouts. Put the ball in play at times and who knows? You might find a hole.”
Bellevue East, which trailed 8-2 after three innings, was able to rally thanks to six Home Federal errors. The visitors closed to within 8-6 after five innings despite only plating one earned run in the game.
“You can tell it’s summer now and it’s 97 degrees and they cut the grass,” Ritzdorf said. “The ball’s going to be quicker, and I think it got on our guys a little bit tonight. It’s just something that we’re going to have to adjust to.”
But Home Federal ended the game via the 8-run mercy rule by putting up six runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Leiting got things going with an RBI double for his third straight hit.
“I’m seeing the ball pretty well. It looks like a big balloon coming in. I swing and it goes,” he said.
Eli Arends added a pinch-hit two-run single from the No. 9 spot. The Nos. 7-9 hitters combined to produce five runs and four RBIs.
“It’s nice when the top gets on, then with me hitting 4-hole, the bottom hits me in,” Leiting said. “That’s nice when it flips back around and then the top hits in the bottom.”
Ritzdorf added: “If the bottom of the lineup is doing that, then they’re setting the table for the top. That makes you dangerous all the way through.
“I wouldn’t put too much stock just in this one game, but it is good to see our guys doing that at times.”
Ten players recorded hits for Home Federal with Ryan Melvin, Rans Sanders and Kyle Sextro all having a pair.
Home Federal faces Papillion-La Vista Saturday at 11 a.m. and Millard West at 6:30 p.m.
Bellevue East 002 310—6 7 3
Home Federal (13-14) 233 006—14 15 6
WP—Cruz. LP—Schuyler. 2B—BE, Chudomelka. HF, Halsey, Leiting.