Great Bend's baseball team had its chance to upset Western Athletic Conference champion Dodge City. But the Red Demons (12-3, 6-1 WAC) escaped with a hard-fought 7-4 victory Friday that clinched the WAC baseball title.
The Panthers had the tying runners on base in the sixth inning before reliever Erubiel Duron shut the door. Chayse Gruber and Stefan Spray drove home Jade Poe and Paco Hernandez with sacrifice flies for a 6-3 score. But Duron struck out Gavin Haberman to leave the bases loaded.
Dodge City's Damian Rodriguez singled home Friess for a 1-0 first inning lead. Gruber scored on Joseph Moeder's second-inning bunt for a 1-1 tie after the Panthers' Brad Beck, Stefan Spray and Moeder laid down three straight bunts.
Dodge City's Tucker Smith scored on a Rodriguez third-inning sacrifice fly and Duron scored on an error for a 3-1 lead.
Dodge City scored three fifth-inning runs when bloop singles by Alden Knedler and Aiden Sowers was followed by a potential double-play grounder by Remington Miller that glanced off Gruber's glove. Courtesy runner Dakota Whitman and Sowers scored when reliever Paco Hernandez threw a potential double play grounder by Aaron Trent into centerfield for a 6-1 lead.
The Panthers exhibited excellent patience as Poe, Sage Koelsch, Beck and Joseph Moeder drew sixth-inning walks. The Panthers were a base hit away from a big inning. Gruber drove home Poe and Spray drove in Hernandez with fly balls.
Dodge City's Aaron Trent drove home Sowers with a valuable seventh-inning insurance run. Koelsch's double drove in Edwin Chavez. But Duron struck out the final three batters to secure the save.
The Panthers (6-7, 3-5 WAC) will play Hutchinson High at 5 p.m. Monday trailing 5-0 in the resumption of a suspended game at the Sports Complex.
Dodge City 102 030 1 — 7 10 2
Great Bend 010 002 1 — 4 5 4
Friess, Taylor (6), Duron (6) and Knedler. Gruber, Hernandez (5) and Beck. W—Friess. L—Gruber. SV—Duron. 2B—GB—Koelsch; DC—Rodriguez 2, Sowers
Dodge City 6-1 12-3
Hays High 6-2 10-2
Garden City 4-4 8-4
Great Bend 3-5 6-7
Liberal 0-7 5-11
FRIDAY—Dodge City 7, Great Bend 4