BY MIKE MARZOLF
Special to the Tribune
They’re off. And what a start it was.
The Great Bend American Legion Chiefs started the 2016 summer campaign off in grand style, sweeping games from the Kansas Curve Monday evening at the Great Bend Sports Complex.
The Chiefs opened with a run-rule win then followed by holding off the Curve for the 2-0 start. . The Kansas Curve is a select group based out of Wichita that has several kids playing already signed with colleges. The players are from around the state as well as into Oklahoma.
Great Bend won the opener by a 15-5 count then edged the Curve, 12-10 in the nightcap
But it wasn’t quite that simple.
In the opener, Great Bend scored 11 times in the bottom of the fifth inning to earn the run-rule win. The Chiefs trailed by a 5-4 score heading into that bottom of the fifth before the bats exploded.
“We have a saying,” Chiefs Coach Roger Ward said. “We like to say ‘keep the line moving’. Do your part and let the next guy do his part. When everyone does their part like the fifth inning in the opener, we are going to have some big innings.
“In team sports, guys will feed off other guys.”
The Chiefs had 14 hits on the opener with Jaxx Hillman, Hunter Hanzlick and Anson Hall leading the hitting attack.
Hanzlick went a 3-for-3 at the plate with two doubles, three runs scored and three RBI. Hillman went 3-for-4 with a double, three runs scored and a pair of RBI. Hall added a 3-for-4 effort as well with two runs and two RBI.
Kody Lang pitched the top of fifth to pick up the win in the season-opener. Brett Basye started and went three innings, allowing one earned run but three total runs on four hits. Brad Reif pitched the fourth as the Curve built a 5-4 lead setting up the big fifth inning.
The Chiefs took the lead in the second game as Bryce Lytle allowed three runs – one earned – in his four innings of work to pick up the win as the starter.
Great Bend built the lead to 12-3 in the bottom of the fourth before the Curve rallied in the top of the fifth to cut the lead to 12-9.
Brice Kaiser finished the final 2 2/3 innings allowed just three hits and one earned run to pick up the save.
Brady Michel had a huge game at the plate driving in seven runs. The big blow came on a grand slam home run as the Chiefs built their 9-run lead. Michel went 3-for-5 with the grand slam and two doubles.
Konner Ireland was a perfect 2-for-2 with a walk and was hit twice, reaching base all five times he came to the plate. Ireland stole a pair of bases and scored four times in the win. The senior-to-be at GBHS also drove in a pair.
Great Bend is back at home Wednesday when Hays visits the Sports Complex for a doubleheader starting at 6 p.m.