BY JIM MISUNAS
BAT CATS 3, AVIATORS 2 (G2) – Great Bend native Chayse Gruber pitched 21/3 shutout innings in a 3-2 nightcap victory on Strike Out Cancer Night over the Haysville Aviators. Gruber (2-0) has yielded one earned run in 171/3 innings, an ERA of 0.52. He retired seven of eight batters and struck out four Aviators.
Barton Community College's Jake Tatom delivered the game-winning seveth-inning single. JoJo Nieves walked and advanced to third base on a wild pitch and error before scoring on Tatom's single.
The Bat Cats (21-7, 16-4 Jayhawk) were scheduled to finish a 3-game series Friday. The Bat Cats secured an automatic bid for the 2023 NBC World Series Aug. 3-12 at Wichita's Eck Stadium by winning the Jayhawk League first half.
The nightcap developed into a pitcher's duel between Bat Cat pitcher Zach Curry and Aviator Garrett Klein. Aviator Tommy Davis scored on a first-inning error as Curry escaped a bases-loaded jam.
Bat Cat Jackson Webster doubled home Tatom and Armani Raygoza for a 2-1 lead after three innings. Davis singled home Jack Bell for a 2-2 tie after five innings.
AVIATORS 7, BAT CATS 5 (G1) – Haysville’s first eight batters reached base against Bat Cats ace pitcher Kyle Winkler. The Aviators scored five first-inning runs and roared to a 7-0 lead before holding off the Bat Cats’ rally 7-5.
Aviator Tommy Davis drilled a 2-run single and Jayden Hill, Cade Irwin and Grant Roosma drove in runs in a 6-hit first inning. Winkler (4-1, 3.14 ERA) didn’t show his usual break as he yielded six runs. Winkler had yielded four earned runs in 22 innings.
Aviator Khoto Ichikawa singled home Tyler Motta-Lloyd in the fourth inning. Sam Wiese scored on a Roosma’s fifth-inning sacrifice fly for a 7-0 lead.
The Bat Cats rallied with 14 baserunners in their final four at-bats. Marshall Hale singled home Grant Nottlemann in the fifth inning.
Great Bend was one big hit away from an incredible seventh-inning rally. Tatom singled in Brady Kreutzer and Connor Chavez after a walk and single. Armani Raygoza singled home Nolan Bushko and Tatom scored on Jase Woita's sacrifice fly for a 7-5 score. But Aviator reliever Brady Pacha ended the threat by striking out Brady Wilson with the tying baserunner at first base.
Haysville 100 010 0 – 2 3 3
GB Bat Cats 002 000 1 – 3 5 2
Klein, Creason (6) and DeVries. Curry, Gruber (5) and Nottleman. W–Gruber, 2-0. L–Creason.
Haysville 500 110 0 – 7 11 0
GB Bat Cats 000 010 4 – 5 9 1
Wilson, Pacha (6) and Roosma. Kyle Winkler, Parton (5) and Hale. W—Wilson. L—Winkler. 2B—GB—H—Wiese.
Great Bend Bat Cats 17-4 22-7
Kansas Cannons 13-7 14-10
Derby Twins 10-9 14-11
Haysville Aviators 10-11 10-13
Newton Rebels 8-12 10-12
Hutchinson Monarchs 7-11 8-11
Kingman Islanders 4-15 7-16
7-6—Aviators 7-2, Bat Cats 5-3; Rebels 4-0, Cannons 3-6; Monarchs 15, Black Sox 3; Twins 9, Islanders 5
7-7—Bat Cats 12, Aviators 3
7-8—Bat Cats at Monarchs; Cannons at Twins; Aviators at Islanders
7-9—Aviators at Islanders; Twins at Cannons
7-10—Monarchs at Bat Cats (DH), 5:30; Cannons at Twins; Islanders at Aviators