SALINA — No. 9 hitter Bryce Beck of the Great Bend Chiefs caught lightning in a bottle, crashing a towering solo home run that smashed against the scoreboard above the fence in left-center field at spacious Dean Evans Stadium.
Beck’s bases-empty shot in the second inning during Monday’s 2012 Kansas Grand Slam Wood Bat Tournament action evened the score with the Topeka-based Kansas Titans at 1-1.
The Titans proceeded to answer with a pair of runs in the second and third innings in building a 5-2 lead, but the Chiefs made a rallying cry, spearheaded by scoring two runs in the fourth, four in the sixth — keyed by Jace Bowman’s two-run triple — and two more in the seventh for a 10-6 victory.
Chiefs right-hander Braden Jones threw a complete-game six-hitter and allowed only one run through the final four innings for the Chiefs. They finished 2-2 in the tourney, ironically winning by the same score they beat the Kansas Rattlers in their opening game on Saturday.
“After a loss in the bottom of the seventh like we did in the first game this morning, it was good to come back and win a game,” said Great Bend head coach Michael Stettinger of his team, which now sits at 7-9 on the season.
Beck gave the Chiefs some punch by going deep in the early going, his first homer ever to clear a fence in a game.
“That was a good way to get on the board for our first run,” Stettinger said of Beck’s estimated 385-foot blast. “Bryce is a kid that has a pretty good bat and he has some pop in there.
“We just haven’t seen the power this year and we knew it was coming eventually. He got a pitch he could handle, and he handled it.”
The Titans led 3-1 after scoring a pair of runs in the second, but Mitch Kottas’ RBI single to center in the bottom of the inning, driving in Dakota Conaway, who had earlier reached on an error.
Beck, who finished 1-for-3 with two runs scored and three runs batted in, had an RBI groundout to short during the Chiefs’ two-run fourth. Brady Buehler, who reached on an error on a bunt, scored on Conaway’s RBI double to left to pull the Chiefs within 5-4.
The Titans led 6-4 after four innings and after a scoreless fifth, Great Bend had its breakthrough inning.
Jones reached on a dropped pop fly by Titans shortstop Jacob Tetuan to start the Chiefs’ surge. After Buehler’s sacrifice bunt moved Jones to second, Jones advanced onto third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch as Beck walked and moved to second.
After Connor Sell flied to center, Conaway was hit by a pitch before Bowman, hitless on the day at that juncture, smashed a two-run triple to left-center, driving home Conaway and Beck.
“Whether he’s in a slump or not, Jace is a dangerous hitter,” Stettinger said. “There’s a reason why he bats in the No. 3 hole for us. He’s our best stick on the team right now and our most consistent guy.
“It was a big-time for him to break out of his slump and he broke the game open.”
Bowman said of his key triple that he was a little relieved.
“I had a couple of hard-hit balls right at guys and hadn’t got a hit in the last couple at-bats and I came up with a big hit when we needed it,” Bowman said.
“I’m just glad that we played well enough to win.”
Kottas, who finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs, rapped a base hit to score Bowman to hike the lead to 8-6.
Jones doubled to left in the seventh and Buehler drew a walk. After a wild pitch advanced both baserunners 90 feet, Beck reached on a dropped fly ball in left field to score their final two runs.
Bloodline — Jacob Tetuan is the younger brother of former Wichita State pitcher John Tetuan, along with former Kansas State defensive back Jesse Tetuan.
CLASS AAA AMERCIAN LEGION BASEBALL
2012 Kansas Grand Slam
Wood Bat Tournament
Dean Evans Stadium
Great Bend Chiefs 10, Kansas Titans 6
123 456 7 R H E
Chiefs 011 204 2 — 10 6 6
Titans 122 100 0 — 6 6 4
Braden Jones & Mitch Kottas; Evan Burdiek, Gates Glassel (4) & Peter Pfannenstiel. W — Jones. L — Glassel. 2B — Chiefs: Dakota Conaway, Jones; Titans: Royer, Tetuan. 3B — Bowman.
Hutchinson Cardinals 10, Columbus Behlen Blue 2
Millhouse 18U 21, Wichita Aces 7
Great Bend Chiefs 10, Kansas Titans 6
Millard North HS 5, Great Bend Chiefs 4
Kansas Rattlers 9, Salina Falcons 6