By JIM MISUNAS
BUHLER – The Great Bend American Legion Braves, who had trailed by eight runs, had one out left when Calan Haberman’s walk sparked a game-tying eight-run rally.
An inning later, Haberman’s line-drive single finished off a titanic comeback that scored Riley Smith for the game-winning run in a 17-16 semifinal victory Wednesday over the Pratt 86ers in the Class A Buhler Zone Tournament.
Haberman was mobbed by happy teammates after his base hit to right field delivered a fitting ending for a 31/2-hour classic in 100-degree heat.
“It’s a dream to see those teammates running – it’s the greatest feeling,” Haberman said.
Haberman delivered an identical game-ending single against Linn County June 4 at the Ottawa Tournament.
“I was looking for an outside pitch, something I could hit to right field,” Haberman said. “I did the same thing at Ottawa.”
The Braves (24-12) play McPherson (16-7) in Thursday’s 3 p.m. winners bracket finals. The Zone champion qualifies for Class A state at Hays.
Catcher Colin Hall kept the game tied when he caught relays from third baseman Jesus Bujanda and first baseman Eduardo Bujanda for a stunning double play at home plate with the bases loaded. Reliever Jacob Hanrahan struck out Noah Malone to end the eighth-inning threat.
The Braves overcame 15 walks, three hit batters and four errors.
“That was epic,” said Braves coach Travis Kurth. “I’ve never been part of a team that came back from eight runs down to get a victory.”
Trailing 16-8, Joey Soupiset, Smith, and Jayce Christiansen drove in runs and Eduardo Bujanda scored on a wild pitch for a 16-12 deficit with one out left.
Haberman drew a walk and Townshend Kurth’s single deflected off two Pratt gloves to score Christiansen for a 16-13 score. Colin Hall’s double was not seen by Pratt’s leftfielder and Haberman and Kurth scored for a 16-15 score. A single by Jesus Bujanda was stopped by shortstop Travis Theis, but Hall scored when his throw sailed over catcher Justin Lamatsch for a 16-16 tie.
Kurth waved Hall home from second base when he saw Theis mishandle the ball for a split second.
“Hall got a great jump off second base and had a full head of steam,” Kurth said. “Theis has a great arm, but I send him when I saw him drop the ball in the grass. Fortunately, he threw it high.”
The Braves handed Pratt a 5-1 lead on a combination of five walks, two errors and a missed fly ball.
Pratt’s Landon Studer singled, stole second base and scored on the Braves’ first-inning error. Kaden Evert scored on the Braves’ second error. Lamatsch scored when he hustled two bases on a wild pitch when pitcher Jesus Bujanda failed to cover home plate.
The Braves ran themselves out of a promising first inning when Townshend Kurth and Colin Hall were thrown out attempting to steal. Kurth singled home Calan Haberman as the first two batters reached base.
Nate Kolm scored on Kade Evert’s fly ball that rightfielder Nahum Olivas lost in the sun-drenched sky. Studer scored on Travis Theis’ groundout for a 5-1 lead.
Riley Smith singled home Joey Soupiset in the second inning. Jesus Bujanda singled home Kurth and Colin Hall scored on a wild pitch for a 5-4 score.
Pratt’s Justin Lamatsch drilled a two-run homer off Kurth for a 9-4 lead. Kaden Evert singled home Studer and Travis Theis singled home Evert to start a five-run fourth inning. Wyatt Schrag scored Pratt’s 10th run after a walk, error and forceout.
The Braves rallied with a four-run fourth inning. Kurth singled home Nahum Olivas and Calan Haberman stole home on the back end of a double steal with Kurth. Jesus Bujanda tripled home Kurth and Hall for an 10-8 score.
Braves reliever Joey Soupiset walked four batters and hit a batter to start the sixth inning to force home two runs. Jacob Hanrahan walked his first batter, but retired Kaden Evert, Travis Theis and Justin Lamatsch to keep the score at 14-8. Pratt added sacrifice flies by Malone and Studer for a 16-8 lead.
BRAVES 17, PRATT 16
Pratt 320 513 20 – 16 10 1
Braves 112 400 81 – 17 10 4
Evert, Theis (7), Schrag (7) and Lamatsch. Jesus Bujanda, Kurth (2), Soupiset (4), Hanrahan (6) and Hall. W—Hanrahan. L—Schrag. 2B—GB—Hall 2, Olivas; P—Evert, Studer, Latmatsch. 3B—GB—Kurth, J. Bujanda; P—Bolen. HR—P—Lamatsch.
CLASS A ZONE 4 BUHLER
WINNER QUALIFIES FOR STATE
Russell 12, Hays Eagles 11;Pratt 86ers 13, Buhler Nationals 6; Great Bend Braves 36, Cunningham 0; Buhler Nationals 19, Cunningham 0
McPherson 16, Russell 4
Great Bend Braves 17, Pratt 16, 8
Buhler Nationals 11, Russell 0
Pratt 8, Hays Eagles 4
Game 9—3 p.m.—McPherson 16-7 vs. Great Bend Braves 24-12
Game 10—5:15 p.m.—Buhler Nationals 21-19 vs. Pratt 12-7
Game 11—7:30 p.m.—Winner game 10 vs. loser game 9
Game 12—5 p.m.—Winners games 9, 11
Game 13—7:15 p.m.—Winner game 12 vs. loser game 12 (if needed)