The little things mean a lot.
Those things escaped Helias in its first game Saturday before things turned around in the second game, as the Crusaders salvaged a split in a doubleheader against foes from Lee's Summit.
"If we make the routine plays, the fundamental things, everything in the two games take care of themselves," Helias coach Chris Wyrick said after the Crusaders fell 2-1 to Lee's Summit before beating Lee's Summit North 7-4 at the American Legion Sports Complex. "But we didn't execute and that's why (Lee's Summit) got the win."
That and the pitching of Lee's Summit senior Jackson McIntosh. The Missouri State signee, who finished with 16 strikeouts in the win and has had an 18-strikeout game this season, struck out at least two Crusaders in each of the seven innings.
"He had command of all three pitches in the strike zone, he could do whatever he wanted to," Wyrick said. "But there were some at-bats where it didn't look we were battling.
"You can always put a good swing on it, he may just be better than you that day, which he was today. But you can have better at-bats than we did."
Lee's Summit scored both of its runs in the top of the first inning on two hits, a walk and an error.
"If we were ready to play, I don't know that they would have scored two runs," Wyrick said. "As a coach, I have to find a way to get them ready to play from the start."
Lee's Summit got just one hit in the final six innings off Helias starter Cole Distler.
"He made pitches when he had to make them," Wyrick said.
The Crusaders had just two hits - both in the bottom of the first - off McIntosh until breaking through with a run in the fifth. Joe Reinkemeyer led off with a walk and moved to second on a passed ball before scoring on a double by Jordan Backes.
After a strikeout, Backes advanced to third on a bunt before another strikeout ended the inning. It was the first of three straight innings Helias stranded a runner just 90 feet from home.
In the sixth, Jared Bentlage led off with a single. After a strikeout, he moved to second on a sacrifice before advancing to third on a wild pitch. Hayden Lee then walked and stole second before a strikeout ended the threat.
In the seventh, Backes led off with a bunt single and moved to second on a throwing error on the play. He then stole third before the next two Helias batters struck out, and then was tagged out on a failed suicide squeeze to end the game.
"We probably could have won that first game if we do just two more things correctly against a very good pitcher," Wyrick said. "We had our chances, we just didn't execute."
The second game was scoreless until both teams broke through in the fourth.
Lee's Summit North used two hits, a walk and an error to score three times, while Helias got two hits and two walks and a pair of errors to score four runs in the bottom of the inning.
Bentlage led off with a walk and moved to third on a double by Trevor Schnieders. Alex Barton then singled home Bentlage before Schnieders scored on an error. Courtesy runner Christian Hake later scored on a sacrifice fly by Joe Reinkemeyer before Jordan Backes, who had walked, scored on an error to give Helias the 4-3 lead.
"When you put the ball in play, you give yourself a chance," Wyrick said.
Lee's Summit North tied it with a run in the fifth before Helias took the lead for good with a run of its own in the inning when Backes hit a two-out single to score Cole Distler.
"If we don't get anything there, we might be going to extra innings," Wyrick said.
The Crusaders then added two insurance runs in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Distler and a single by Bentlage.
Lee's Summit North got a run in the top of the seventh before Schnieders ended the game with a pair of strikeouts.
Schnieders was the complete-game winner, tossing a six-hitter. He walked two and struck out four.
"We can't make things so hard on ourselves or its going to catch up with us," Wyrick said.
Helias (9-3) is back in action Tuesday at Marshall.