BY JIM MISUNAS
WICHITA – The Great Bend Bat Cats are rewarded at the NBC Baseball Tournament with a ballgame against a familiar foe – the Hays Larks.
The Bat Cats (23-15) open Sunday at 7 p.m. against the Hays Larks (32-10) or Waco, Texas Missions. Great Bend plays the Hays-Waco loser Monday at Wichita State's Eck Stadium. Two of the three pool teams will advance to an eight-team bracket.
"I'm really pleased," said Great Bend coach Roger Ward. "I would've been heartbroken had we not made it. It paid off that we made it a priority to win as many baseball games as we could. Thankfully, we played well enough to earn those wins. It shows that every baseball game matters."
The Sunflower Collegiate League also placed the Cheney Diamond Dawgs, Haysville Aviators, Hutchinson Monarchs and Derby Twins into the NBC Tournament.
"It was fantastic for our league to have five teams in the NBC Tournament," Ward said.
The history for Great Bend coach Roger Ward goes back decades against Hays Larks coach Frank Leo. During the high school season, the Great Bend Panthers sent Leo into retirement with a regional championship that ended Hays High's record-breaking 20-2 season.
WICHITA STATE, ECK STADIUM
POOL A—1—Hutchinson Monarchs 2-0; 2—Wichita 316 Elite 1-1; 3—Palm Springs (Calif.) Chill 0-2; G1—316 Elite 11, Palm Springs 3; G2—Hutchinson 7, 316 Elite 4; G3—Hutchinson 6, Palm Springs 5
POOL B—1—Wichita Sluggers 2-0; 2—Denver (Colo.) Cougars 1-1; 3—Wellington Heat 0-2; G1—Sluggers 8, Wellington 1; G2—Wichita 10, Denver 3; G3—Denver 5, Wellington 4
POOL C—1—Derby Twins 2-0; 2—Dodge City A’s 1-1; 3—Jasper (Ind.) Reds 0-2; G1–Derby 7, Jasper 1; G2—Derby 10, Dodge City 3; G3—Dodge City 10, Jasper Reds 0
POOL D—1—Hays Larks 1-1 (8-5); 2—Great Bend Bat Cats 1-1 (10-11); 3—Waco (Texas) Missions 1-1 (7-9); G1—Hays 4, Waco 0; G2–Bat Cats 5, Hays 4; G3—Waco 7, Bat Cats 5
TUESDAY’S BRACKET PLAY
Hutchinson Monarchs 7, Dodge City A’s 1
Great Bend Bat Cats 6, Wichita Sluggers 3
Derby Twins 5, Wichita 316 Elite 2
Hays Larks 2, Denver Cougars 0
WEDNESDAY'S BRACKET PLAY
Derby Twins vs. Hays Larks
Hutchinson Monarchs vs. Great Bend Bat Cats
THURSDAY’S BRACKET PLAY
POOL 1—THURSDAY—G1—San Diego Waves vs. Texas Express, 1; G2—Cheney Diamond Dawgs vs. Seattle Studs, 7; SATURDAY—G3—winners; G4—losers
POOL 2—FRIDAY—G1—Game Day (Colo.) Saints vs. qualifier 1; G2—Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters vs. Haysville Aviators, 7; SUNDAY—G3—winners; G4—losers
POOL 3—THURSDAY—G1—Kansas Cannons vs. San Antonio Angels, 3:30; G2—Colorado Cyclones vs. Fairbanks Goldpanners, 9:30; SATURDAY—G3—winners; G4—losers
POOL 4—FRIDAY—G1—Lonestar Baseball vs. qualifier, 3:30; G1—Liberal Bee Jays vs. San Diego Stars, 9:30; SUNDAY—G3—winners; G4—losers