BY JIM MISUNAS
GODDARD — An 18-day baseball layoff developed into Roger Ward's biggest nightmare.
But Ward's connection with Barton Community College coach Brett Riggs has preserved the Great Bend Bat Cats postseason hopes.
Great Bend start the Summerball Showdown at 4 p.m. Wednesday against the Dirtbags Wednesday at Goddard's fully-turfed Genesis Sports Complex.
The successful Bat Cats (30-11) will journey to Goddard's Summerball Showdown with 15 players from a 31-player summer roster. The Bat Cats feature eight pitchers and seven position players from the regular season.
Superstar centerfielder Alex Rodgers (.330, 29R, 12 RBI, 15 SB, 5 HR) and 1B Bodi Wallar (.301, 19R, 28 RBI, 6 HR) return, but four of the top five batters departed Great Bend.
Ace righthander Ian Lanik (5-1, 4.76) and David Stuart (4-0, 5.55) anchor the returning pitching staff.
The Bat Cats have added five players with Barton County baseball experience, including Barton County graduate Nolan Riley, who will reunite with his cousin — righthander pitcher Tyrus Riley. Infielder Nolan Riley (.308) led Arkansas Fort Smith in doubles, hits and walks drawn.
"We'll show up, but could have our pitchers hitting," Ward said. "Guys started going home."
Ward has no idea what will happen after the lengthy layoff, let alone adding extra players into the mix. But he appreciates the fact the 20 players want to compete in a postseason tournament.
"We'll show up and play," he said.
The Summerball Showdown didn't resemble the so-called "blind draw," which was advertised. Teams were placed on the bracket, with preference provided for local teams from the Kansas Collegiate League Baseball. Teams are seeded into a single-elimination bracket based on record, run differential and last runs permitted.
Nine teams represent the Kansas Collegiate League Baseball – the Kansas Cannons (31-3), Kansas Curve (19-15), El Dorado Walnuts (16-14), Park City Rangers (16-16), Wellington Heat (15-16), Dirtbags (14-16), Valley Center Mud Daubers (15-17), Midwest Moos (11-21) and McPherson Pipeliners (6-25).
Last year’s tournament champion the Kansas Cannons have beaten the Hays Larks twice this summer.
WICHITA DIRTBAGS 7, BAT CATS 5 — After flirting with disaster all night, the Wichita Dirtbags made the Bat Cats pay with the game-winning single for a 7-5 victory in 10 innings. Pitcher-after-pitcher stranded baserunners with clutch 2-out pitching. Catcher Connor Allen sparked the defense by throwing out two baserunners. Third Baseman Colter Maldnado and shjortstop Carsn Pracht each turned double plays.
The Bat Cats never trailed until the 10th inning.
Dirtbag Ramos drilled a 2-run single off reliever Zach Thornton to score Saben Seager and Micah Drovak. The Rampos' hard-hit grounder skipped by first baseman Bodi Waller down the right field line.
The Dirtbags tied it 5-5 when Seager and Dvorak delivered RBI singles in the eighth inning.
The Bat Cats led 3-0 with a 3-run third inning. Connor Scott singled home Connor Allen and JoJo Nieves. Nolan Riley singled home Alex Rodgers. Rodgers homered to hand the Bat Cats a 4-3 led. Maldanado doubled and scored on Hunter Gotreaux's sixth-inning single for a 5-3 lead.
Wichita Dirtbags 000 021 020 2 — 7 17 1
GB Bat Cats 003 011 000 0 — 5 8 0
Hungria and Plummer. Stuart, Nedved (3), Brett Allen (6), Thornton (9), Riley (10) and Connor Allen. W—Hungria. L—Thornton. 2B—GB—Riley, Connor Allen, Maldanado. HR—GB—Rodgers.
WEDNESDAY—Wichita Dirtbags 7, Great Bend Bat Cats 5; Wellington Heat 11, Wichita 316 Jones 0; El Dorado Walnuts 14, Valley Center Mud Daubers 6; Winfield Midwest Moos 4, Chicago Pumas 1; Kansas Cannons 7, Newton Rebels 0; Kansas Curve 7, ICT Avengers; 0; Corn Belt League (Neb.) vs. McPherson Pipeliners (6-25); F5—Palm Springs, Calif. (19-5) vs. U.S. Military Wardogs; F1—Oklahoma City Pelicans vs. Park City Rangers (16-16); F3—Wichita Black Sox vs. Cluckers
THURSDAY—4 p.m. F1—Kansas Curve (20-15) vs. Newton (24-19); 4 p.m. F3—Corn Belt vs. Midwest Moos (12-21); 6 p.m. F2—Park City vs. ICT Avengers; 6 p.m. F5—McPherson vs. Oklahoma City; 7 p.m. F1—Wellington (16-16) vs. Chicago Pumas (12-16); 7 p.m. F3—Wichita Black Sox vs. Great Bend (30-12); 9 p.m. F2—Palm Springs vs. Cluckers; 9 p.m. F5—Kansas Cannons (32-3) vs. Valley Center (15-18); 10 p.m. F1— U.S. Military vs. Dirtbags (15-16); 10 p.m. F3—316 Jones vs. El Dorado (17-14)
BAT CATS STATS
PITCHING (30-11)—Lanik 5-1, 4.76; Stuart 4-0, 5.55; Tower 3-1, 4.17; Austin 2-0, 1.20; Tyrus Riley 2-1, 5.50; Nedved 2-1, 2.31; Thornton 1-0, 0.00; Brett Allen 0-1, 3.30.
HITTING—Rodgers, .330, 29R, 12 RBI, 15 SB, 5 HR; Wallar, .301, 19R, 28 RBI, 6 HR; Kreutzer, .255, 9R, 11 RBI; Gotreaux, .250, 11R 8 SB; Maldanado, .220, 9R, 10 RBI; Connor Allen, .196, 11R.
2022 BAT CATS ROSTER
1—Carson Pracht, IF, Barton CC, George Mason, Wichita Carroll
2—Connor Scott, LHP, Barton CC, Washburn, Norman, Okla.
3—Colter Maldanado, IF, Barton CC, Lawrence
4—Alex Rodgers, CF, Barton CC, Omaha, Neb.
6—Brady Kreutzer, 2B, Fort Hays, Hays-TMP
7—Grant Nottlemann, C-3B, Barton CC, Lincoln, Neb.
8—JoJo Nieves, OF, Barton CC, Junction City
10—Logan Redeker, LHP, Barton, Washburn, Topeka
11—Hunter Gotreaux, IF, Hutchinson CC, Moss Bluff, La.
12—David Stuart, RHP, Barton CC, Lawrence
15—Nolan Riley, 3B, Barton CC, Arkansas-Fort Smith, Augusta
18—George Austin, RHP, NE Texas, Dallas
20—Zach Thornton, LHP, Barton CC, Lawrence
21—Ian Lanik, RHP, Barton CC, Eagle, Neb.
22—Matt Nedved, LHP, Barton CC, Topeka
24—Connor Allen, C, Barton CC, Wichita Collegiate
30—Bodi Wallar, utility, Hutchinson CC, Papillion, Neb.
31—Brayden Tower, RHP, Emporia State, Shawnee
33—Brett Allen, RHP, Treasure Valley CC, Newcastle, Australia
34—Tyrus Riley, RHP, Barton, Bentonville, Ark.