BY JIM MISUNAS
HUTCHINSON – When Bat Cats starter John Zerr hit a bump in the road, Great Bend coach Roger Ward saw the familiar handwriting on the wall.
One poor inning featuring six walks, a hit batter and a costly error doomed the Bat Cats 8-6 against the second-place Hutchinson Monarchs Sunday. Four Bat Cat errors handed the Monarchs five unearned runs.
The Bat Cats (12-14, 11-12 Sunflower) dropped to 1-10 against the top three Sunflower Collegiate League baseball teams. The Bat Cats play Hutchinson (17-4, 15-4 Sunflower) at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Wichita State.
Zerr cruised through four shutout innings with 52 nifty pitches. Zerr stranded Austin Callahan after a leadoff double. First baseman Jake Baker doubled off Koby Ketcher on Clayton Chadwick's third-inning line drive.
Bat Cat Trent Touchet rounded the bases for an inside-the-park homer when a deep fly ball glanced off centerfielder Luke Sartori's glove. Collin Meinert scored on Tyler Henry's fourth-inning groundout for a 2-0 lead.
Zerr's command vanished at the same time the home plate umpire's strike zone became an invisible zone. Sartori, Garett Stephens and Chadwick drew back-to-back walks off Zerr.
"John had given us a good start, but he ran out of gas," Ward said. "If you lose your legs, it's hard to stretch out and throw strikes."
Bat Cats reliever Ian Henricks threw gasoline on the fire with bases-loaded walks to Anthony McKenzie and Taylor Barber for a 2-2 tie. Dylan Nedved's single scored Chadwick and McKenzie. Drew Reetz walked and shortstop Seth Kenagy dropped Sartori's pop fly for a fifth run. Nedved strolled home on Stephens' hit-by-pitch for a 6-2 lead.
"Our next guy (Henricks) had a good warm-up, but missed badly," Ward said. "The more you're in the zone, the bigger chance you're going to get a strike called. We were all over the place in that inning."
The Bat Cats outscored Hutchinson 4-2 in the final four innings, but yielded two more unearned runs on errors.
"It's not fun, but you've got to be tough and minimize their runs," Ward said. "It's frustrating because that happens about every game lately."
Touchet scored on Ragsdale's single to start a three-run seventh inning. Marty Carnahan singled and scored on Seth Keangy's sacrifice fly. Alex Rodgers singled home Chance Ragsdale. Touchet drilled a ninth-inning homer to finish with three hits and a pair of RBIs.
MONARCHS 8, BAT CATS 6
Bat Cats 010 100 301 – 6 6 4
Monarchs 000 061 01x – 8 8 1
Zerr, Henricks (5), Smith (7) and Touchet. Snavely, Clark (7), Waugh (8) and W–Snavely. L–Zerr. 2B–HM–Nedved, Callahan, Ketcher. HR–Touchet 2.
SUNFLOWER COLLEGIATE LEAGUE
Cheney Diamond Dawgs 18-0 24-0
Hutchinson Monarchs 15-4 17-4
Rose Hill Sluggers 15-4 18-5
Great Bend Bat Cats 11-12 12-14
Mulvane Patriots 9-11 11-11
Derby Twins 8-14 8-14
Newton Rebels 6-13 9-14
Haysville Aviators 4-13 6-16
Sunflower Seeds 4-19 4-19
7-11–Hutchinson 13, Bat Cats 4; Cheney 4, Haysville 0; Seeds 5, Derby 4; Rose Hill 10, Newton 7; (nc) Mulvane 13, Wichita Aeros 1
7-12–Hutchinson 8, Bat Cats 6; Cheney 7, Haysville 4; Seeds 7, Derby 4; Rose Hill 7, Newton 2; Mulvane 11, (nc) Wichita Standiford 1
7-13–Cheney at Haysville
7-14–Hutchinson vs. Bat Cats at Wichita, 5 p.m.; Cheney vs. Haysville; Seeds at Derby; Rose Hill at Newton
7-15–Derby at Bat Cats; Newton at Cheney; Haysville at Rose Hill; Hutchinson at Mulvane; (nc) Wichita Elite at Seeds
7-16–Bat Cats at Derby; Cheney at Newton; Haysville at Rose Hill; Hutchinson at Mulvane; (nc) Wichita Westerman at Seeds
7-17–Derby at Bat Cats; Newton at Cheney; Rose Hill at Haysville; Mulvane at Hutchinson; Wichita Elliot at Seeds
7-18–Bat Cats at Derby; Cheney at Newton; Rose Hill at Haysville; Mulvane at Hutchinson; Wichita Grays at Seeds