BY JIM MISUNAS
Great Bend righthanded pitcher Chayse Gruber kept the Panthers alive for a share of the Western Athletic Conference baseball championship. Gruber spun a nifty 82-pitch victory to spark the Panthers past Dodge City 4-3 in Tuesday's single game. The single game was played in blustery weather with the southeast wind blowing 27 to 36 mph.
Gruber (4-1) yielded no earned runs to lower his earned run average to 1.00, four earned runs in 28 innings. Gruber has struck out 28 batters with four walks.
Chayston Keck singled and Arec Mendoza doubled to start the seventh inning. After Keck scored on a wild pitch, Gruber stranded Mendoza at third base by striking out Caleb Miles and Sage Riekenberg and retiring Layton Blatnick on a game-ending fly ball.
Sage Koelsch scored the Panthers' first run on Brad Beck's groundball. Koelsch singled home Tyler Stuhlsatz in the second inning for a 2-0 lead. Two errors handed Dodge City two fourth-inning runs. Tucker Smith scored on Keck's groundball and Remmington Miller scored on an error for a 2-2 tie.
Stefan Spray delivered the game-winning fifth-inning double that scored Paco Hernandez and Gruber after a Hernandez single and Gruber double for a 4-2 lead off Dodge City pitcher Aidan Sowers (0-4).
Great Bend (7-3, 4-2 WAC) must upset defending WAC champion Hays High (7-1, 6-1 WAC) Thursday to earn a chance at a share of the WAC baseball championship. It's virtually certain Hays High will throw all-stater Dylan Dreiling, who has signed with Tennessee.
Dodge City (3-7, 1-3 WAC)
Dodge City 000 200 1 — 3 4 3
Great Bend 110 020 x — 4 6 3
Sowers, Keck (6) and Riekenberg. Gruber and Beck, Stuhlsatz (7). W—Gruber, 4-1. L—Sowers, 0-4. 2B—GB—Spray, Gruber; DC—Mendoza.