BY JIM MISUNAS
HUTCHINSON – The Great Bend Bat Cats are down to their ninth life.
Austin Lonestar (Texas) held off the Bat Cats' late rallies for a 7-5 opening victory in Wednesday's 2021 NBC Baseball World Series. Lonestar built a 7-1 lead before the Bat Cats staged their patented late-inning rallies.
The Bat Cats stranded the tying runner on second base in the eighth inning and Brady Michel made the game-ending out with Micah Grover on base.
"Even when we didn't get anything done, we kept battling," said Great Bend coach Roger Ward. "We caught a few breaks and took advantage of them. We're going to hang in there. It means too much to them to quit."
The Bat Cats (27-16) play Wichita 316 Elite at 3 p.m. Friday at Hobart-Detter Field. 316 Elite features Sedgwick County high school baseball players. Lonestar (20-1) plays the Seattle Studs in Friday's winners bracket.
Lonestar broke a scoreless tie with a seven-run fifth inning when the Bat Cats' pitching faltered.
Bat Cats starter Dawson Tourney (0-1) threw four scoreless innings before five consecutive batters reached base. Andrew Jackson and Max Puls delivered back-to-back two-run hits. Reliever Payton Tinkler uncorked a wild pitch as Puls scored. Reed Beverly drilled an RBI double and scored on Tinkler's second wild pitch for a 7-0 lead.
Justin Dunlap and Kam Kelton scored after drawing walks on 3/2 counts. Travis Chestnut and Puls delivered two-strike hits.
"We let one inning get away from us and put ourselves in a bad position," Ward said. "They got a couple of clutch hits. It's hard to come back down six runs. Had we limited it to four runs, it would've been a different contest."
The Bat Cats converted two Lonestar errors into five unearned runs. Jordan Maxson doubled and scored on a fifth-inning error against Lonestar starter Nathan Medrano who worked seven innings. Lonestar has permitted 44 runs in 21 summer games.
"Medrano is a good pitcher going to the University of Houston. We didn't get to him,' Ward said.
Spinn and Maxson each delivered three hard-hit liners. Through seven innings, the Bat Cats saw four of their five baserunners thrown out on the bases. Spinn and Maxson hit into inning-ending line-drive double plays. Grover (fifth) and Gates (sixth) were tossed out on attempted steals.
Grover reached on an eighth-inning error that ignited a four-run eighth inning. Grover scored on a Kyle Gates double. Barton Cougar graduate Nolan Riley singled home Gates and Alex Rodgers. Rodgers scored on Lonestar's third error. Reliever Sebastian Mejia retired red-hot Maxson to strand tying runner Zane Spinn at second base.
Austin, Texas 000 070 000 – 7 9 3
GB Bat Cats 000 010 040 – 5 7 1
Medrano, Lee (8), Mejia (8), Engelmann (9) and Taylor. Tourney, Tinkler (5), Nedved (7), Lanik (9) and Bloomer. W–Medrano. L–Tourney, 0-1. 2B–GB–Maxson, Spinn, Gates; A–Beverly, Puls.
2021 NBC WORLD SERIES
HUTCHINSON, HOBART DETTER
WEDNESDAY–G5–Cheney Diamond Dawgs 9, Boulder (Colo.) Collegians 4; G6–Derby Twins 5, Liberal Bee Jays 4; G7–Lonestar, Texas 7, Great Bend Bat Cats 5; G8–Seattle Studs 14, Wichita 316 Elite 0
THURSDAY–Wichita 316 Sluggers 11, Puerto Rico 1; G3–Hays Larks 16, Mid-Crest (Ill.) Pumas 8; G4–Hutchinson Monarchs 4, San Diego Stars 3; G1–Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters 14, Waco (Texas) Sultanes 0
FRIDAY–G11–Liberal Bee Jays 11, Boulder (Colo.) Collegians 3; G12–Great Bend Bat Cats 13, Wichita 316 Sluggers 0; G15–Derby Twins (27-21) vs. Cheney Diamond Dawgs (28-17), 6 p.m.; G16–Lonestar, Texas (20-1) vs. Seattle Studs, 9 p.m.
SATURDAY–G9–Puerto Rico vs. Waco (Texas) Sultanes; G10–San Diego Stars (14-11) vs. Mid-Crest (Ill.) Pumas (12-30), 3 p.m.; G13–Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters (31-7) vs. Wichita 316 Sluggers (29-12), 9 p.m.; G14–Hutchinson Monarchs (32-11) vs. Hays Larks (30-6), 6 p.m.
G17–Winner G9 vs. loser G16
G18–Winner G10 vs. loser G15
G19–Liberal Bee Jays vs. loser G14
G20–Great Bend Bat Cats (28-16) vs. loser G13