The Olathe Royals ended the season for the Great Bend Braves in the Class A American Legion State Baseball Tournament at the Great Bend Sports Complex. Olathe beat the Braves 8-2 in Friday's elimination game.
The Buhler Nationals, composed of Nickerson and Buhler High basebll players, routed Arkansas City 12-2 Friday to qualify for Saturday's 12:30 p.m. championship game against Arkansas City. Arkansas City defeated the Salina Hawks 9-0 in the losers bracket finals. The Salina Hawks defeated the Olathe Royals 10-2.
BUHLER NATIONALS 8, GREAT BEND BRAVES 2 -- For five innings the Great Bend Braves were cruising along. It looked like the host team was on the way to the winner’s bracket of the Class A American Legion State Baseball Tournament.
The Braves led for five innings until a 5-run sixth by the Buhler Nationals changed the flow of the game.
Buhler used that big inning to take the lead then added two more runs in the final inning for a 7-3 win. With the win Buhler moves into the winner’s bracket final to take on Arkansas City.
Great Bend falls into the loser’s bracket for a noon start against the Kansas Royals – a team based out of Olathe. The other loser’s bracket game will pit Chanute against Salina at 10 a.m.
For five innings, Kaleb Blazek was winning a pitching duel with Buhler’s Josh Salazar, a Nickerson High player. The Nationals feature four players from Nickerson High School and seven players from Buhler High School.
Great Bend took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Koy Brack led off with a double. Dalton Bieker, courtesy running for the catcher, stole third with two outs and scored when the throw to third went array.
The Braves added another run in the third inning when Blazek helped himself. Keaton Reneau led off with a single and moved to second after an error on a pick off attempt.
Blazek hit a chopper to third that made it past the third baseman and scored Reneau for a 2-0 lead.
Miscues by Buhler allowed the Braves a third run in the fifth. Salazar hit Blaine Mermis to start the inning and Mermis moved to second a sacrifice bunt by Reneau.
Mermis came in to score on a Brack grounder that got by the shortstop and allowed Mermis to make it a 3-0 game.
Blazek finally ran into trouble in the sixth and when Logan Sweet doubled off the wall with the bases loaded Buhler was back in it, down just 3-2. A sacrifice fly tied it at three.
Great Bend appeared to be out of the inning tied at 3-all when relief pitcher Cory Burnham notched a strike out with a pitch in the dirt. But the throw to first was errant and the inning stayed alive.
Salazar made the Braves pay with a 2-run go-ahead single to give the Nationals their first lead of the game.
Buhler added more two runs in the seventh for a little insurance.
Salazar finished out a stellar effort on the mound, giving up just a 1-out double to Collin Schlochtermeier in the final inning.
Salazar allowed four hits to pick up the win. Salazar struck out five of the final six batters after Buhler took the lead in the sixth.
If Great Bend wins its first game Friday, the Braves will be back on the field for an 8:30 pm contest against the winner of the Salina Hawks-Chanute game.
CLASS A STATE
GREAT BEND SPORTS COMPLEX
Game 1--Salina Hawks 8, Marysville 0
Game 2—Arkansas City 10, Olathe Royals 0
Game 3—Buhler Nationals 12, Chanute 9
Game 4—Great Bend Braves 14. Doniphan County 4
Game 5—Olathe Royals 14, Marysville 3
Game 6—Chanute 13, Doniphan County 5
Game 7--Arkansas City 12, Salina Hawks 5
Game 8—Buhler Nationals 7, Great Bend Braves 3
Game 9—Salina Hawks 10, Chanute 0
Game 10—Olathe Royals 8, Great Bend Braves 2
Game 11—Buhler Nationals 12, Arkansas City 2
Game 12—Salina Hawks 10, Olathe Royals 2
Game 13—Arkansas City 9, Salina Hawks 0
Game 14—Championship game 1, Arkansas City 12, Buhler Nationals 2
Game 15—Championship Game 2, Arkansas City 10, Buhler Nationals 5