BY JIM MISUNAS
HAYS — As expected, the fate for the Great Bend Chiefs at the Kansas AAA/AA American Legion state baseball tournament will come down to beating the Hays Eagles.
The Chiefs rolled past the Ottawa Arrows 13-3 Thursday to set up a showdown with Hays. The Chiefs (1-1) will need a victory over the Hays Eagles at 8:15 p.m. Friday to qualify for Saturday’s state semifinals.
“That’s what we needed after yesterday,” said Travis Kurth, Great Bend coach. “Our backs are against the wall. We’ve got to keep playing good baseball.”
CHIEFS 13, OTTAWA 3 (G5) — The Chiefs (25-16) scored eight runs in the fifth inning for a crucial run-rule victory on a 85-degree day.
Ottawa’s defense self destructed with three errors in the fifth inning. Calan Haberman doubled home Christian Zahnter and Nahum Olivas, then alertly stole home when catcher Wayne Laurie failed to chase down a wild pitch. Carson Smith singled home Colin Hall. Two runs scored on errors and two runs scored on bases-loaded walks.
“It was a good job by the guys at the plate,” Kurth said. “The guys stayed patient at the plate and drew a lot of walks. We ran aggressive on the bases and stole a bunch of bases.”
Terrific Chiefs’ defense kept Ottawa from building a 1-0 lead. Michael Hull singled home Ty Gambrill. But shortstop Alex Schremmer dived and snared a hard-shot for a force play at third base to end the inning with the bases loaded.
Third baseman Carson Smith and first baseman Kurth teamed up for a second-inning defensive gem. Haberman picked off pinch runner Tanner Gould in the fifth inning.
“Those are all big defensive plays,” Kurth said.
The Chiefs drew nine walks and Soupiset was hit by a pitch. Haberman, Kurth and Carson Smith each drove in two runs.
The Chiefs rallied for four third-inning runs. Kurth doubled home Haberman and Schremmer. Hall tripled home Kurth and scored on a wild pitch for a 4-1 lead.
“We have confidence in ourselves,” Hall said. “If we go out and hit the baseball, play defense and throw strikes, we’ll be fine. I swung at strikes and was smart at the plate.”
Ottawa’s Wyatt Johnston singled home Cole Swanson and Blake Ohlmeier off reliever Haberman for a 4-3 score. Schremmer singled home Haberman in the fourth inning for a 5-3 lead, before Kurth ran into the third out at second base.
SABETHA 17, RUSSELL 1 (G6) — Sabetha scored 14 runs in the first two innings to cruise past Russell. Gabe Garber, Blake Frye, Joe Gruber, Brayden Becker and Seth Burdick all drove home two runs. The Raptors drew 15 walks.
HAYS EAGLES 12, EMPORIA 3 (G7) — Hays (2-0, 3 runs yielded) is a near lock of a semifinal berth after routing Emporia. Dominic Bainter drilled a 3-run homer and Palmer Hutchison drove home three runs as the Eagles pounded Emporia for 17 hits and six extra-base hits. Brady Kreutzer drove home two runs. The Eagles will likely make the semifinal unless they yield more than 13 runs.
Ottawa 100 20 — 3 5 5
GB Chiefs 004 18 — 13 9 0
Mundell, Swanson (5) and Wayne Laurie. Soupiset, Haberman (4) and Hall. W—Haberman, 1-0. L—Mundell, 1-6. 2B—GB—Kurth; 3B—GB—Hall.
Hays 403 200 3 — 12 17 1
Emporia 200 000 1 — 3 7 0
Riggs, Garcia (4) and Lummus. Wagner, Beatty (3), Slayden (6) and Baumwart. W—Riggs, 8-2. L—Wagner, 9-1. 2B—H—Riggs, Petersen, Lummus, Sennett; E—Stewart. 3B—H—Kreutzer. HR—H—Bainter.
Sabetha 680 3 — 17 13 0
Russell 001 0 — 1 2 2
Becker, Worthley (3) and Blake Frye. Braun, Farmer (1), Huber (1), Rohr (2) and Schmidtberger, Roth (4). W—Becker. L—Braun. 2B—S—Herrmann, Becker.
CLASS AAA/AA STATE HAYS
AAA POOL—Hays Eagles 2-0 (26-3), Emporia 2-1 (12-16), Great Bend Chiefs 1-1 (16-7), Ottawa Arrows 0-3
AA POOL—Sabetha 2-0, Iola 2-0, Russell 1-2, Norton 1-2
7-31—Sabetha 15, Norton 0; Emporia 4, Great Bend Chiefs 3; Iola 10, Russell 0; Hays 14, Ottawa 0
8-1—GB Chiefs 13, Ottawa Arrows 3; Sabetha 17, Russell 1; Hays 12, Emporia 2; Iola 10, Norton 0
8-2—Norton 10, Russell 9; Emporia 5, Ottawa 1; Iola 5, Sabetha 4, 6th inning; GB Chiefs vs. Hays
8-3—Hays Eagles/GB Chiefs vs. Iola/Sabetha loser 10 a.m.; Iola-Sabetha winner vs. Great Bend Chiefs/Emporia, 12:30 p.m.