DODGE CITY— Roger Ward said it best. Seedings are lip service. The Great Bend Chiefs, entering this week’s pool tournament in Dodge City as the lowest seed out of four teams, accentuated coach Ward’s comment by sweeping through the competition with wins over top seeded Garden City Wednesday and host and third seed Dodge City Thursday by scores of 11-2 and 5-3.
In Wednesday’s opener against the Garden City Elite the Chiefs were on the short end of a 1-0 margin through the first four innings. Great Bend rallied with a three-run go ahead in the fifth. Garden went two deep into their bullpen as the Chiefs scattered an eight run tirade down the stretch while holding the opposition to a run for the 11-2 win. Anson Hall picked up the complete game victory Wednesday with an errorless effort from his defense.
Thursday’s contest against the third seeded Rangers went two extra innings following a 3-3 stalemate at the end of the seventh. Following a 2-0 late game deficit Bryce Lytle lead off the Chief fifth with a double. A single by Jaxx Hillman ensued setting up an RBI single by Brady Michel scoring Lytle. Dodge City plated their final run in the following inning before Lytle posted a repeat performance with another double in the seventh. With Hall and Lytle in scoring position Hillman pounced with a single bringing in the two base runners and tying the game at three heading to the Ranger half of the seventh.
Following a scoreless eighth Hillman started the ninth with a single which paved the way for a pair of walks for the next two batters. Matt Zecha then singled Hillman across giving the Chiefs a 4-3 lead before a bases loaded walk by Jared Maneth scored Michel putting Great Bend ahead 5-3.
The Chiefs’ defense polished off the opposition in order in the bottom of the ninth as pitcher Brett Bayse went the distance for Great Bend in the victory.
“It all starts on the mound on defense,” coach Ward said following Thursday’s win. “Anson and Brett both threw a lot of strikes and for the most part kept the ball down in the zone. We kept our errors to zero against Garden City but we made a couple errors early against Dodge.”
Ward had praise for his players late in the game against the Rangers.
“We made some great plays down the stretch. We could have easily let it get out of hand on that end but by the same token we could have put it away earlier offensively. The main point was we didn’t break and just continued to put pressure on them and were able to outlast them.”
The Chiefs improve to 22-18 on the season and will compete next Wednesday at the eight-team double elimination state tournament at McPherson’s Grant Sports Complex. Seedings for next week’s tournament
will be finalized this weekend. The winner of the state tournament will advance to the Midwest Regionals.