Great Bend Chiefs right-hander Mitch Kottas’ confidence is growing.
For the second straight outing, Kottas, a senior-to-be at Great Bend High School, was dominant on the mound.
Kottas spun a two-hit shutout in an 8-0 five-inning victory over Thomas More Prep-Marian (Hays) Tuesday evening during the first game of a 19-U American Legion baseball doubleheader at Al Burns Memorial Field.
“Mitch has been on a roll the last couple games that he’s pitched,” Chiefs skipper Michael Stettinger said. “He’s really figured his delivery out, he’s keeping the ball down and locating all three pitches in the zone.
“As fast as he’s working and as many strikes as he’s throwing, it keeps our defense in the game.”
Kottas, who threw only 55 pitches, totaled five strikeouts and had no walks. He only faced more than three batters in one inning when he faced four in the fourth.
“With the command of pitches, I’ve got my slider, changeup and fastball working pretty good,” said Kottas, who retired eight of the first nine batters he encountered.
“I was hitting my spots and even if they hit it, I know my defense is there for me.”
The Chiefs, who had been idle since losing a home doubleheader to Pratt eight days ago, improved to 7-6 on the season after posting an 11-9 win in the second game.
Great Bend 8,
The Chiefs capitalized on some wild pitching by TMP-Marian to build a 3-0 lead in the third, a lead they kept building on. They added three runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth to put the eight-run rule into effect after five innings.
“That’s what good teams do,” Stettinger said. “Any time we come out and get a couple walks and get a couple free passes, we’ve got to come out and capitalize on that.”
Great Bend broke a scoreless game in the third for a 3-0 lead as TMP-Marian starting pitcher Nathan Zimmerman suddenly turned wild. The Chiefs got their first run on an RBI single by Matt Marshall and the other two on consecutive bases-full walks by Jace Bowman and Sam Hafner.
Connor Sell led off the inning with a single and stole second. After Kottas walked, Buehler struck out before Marshall went the opposite way with his single to right, scoring Sell for the game’s first run.
After Landon Leuenberger fanned, Darien Blackwill walked to load the bases before Bowman’s base on balls forced in Kottas to make it 2-0. Hafner’s walk forced in Marshall for the 3-0 lead.
Buehler started the Chiefs’ fourth with a two-out triple and later scored on Blackwill’s bases-loaded walk. Marshall and Leuenberger, who drew earlier walks, scored on Bowman’s two-run single off reliever Pierce Schippers.
Marshall’s two-run single in the fifth put the run-rule into effect. Sell and Buehler both drew walks and scored on the base hit.
Great Bend 11,
Right-hander Nick Ney came on in relief of starter Marshall to help put out the fire in a slugfest.
In the top of the first, the Monarchs built a 2-0 lead on Nick Hammeke’s RBI double and an RBI single by Taylor Pfeifer.
Kottas doubled to lead off the bottom of the first, the first of 11 Chiefs to bat in their seven-run first as they seized a 7-2 lead.
Kottas had two doubles in the inning.
Other highlights included Leuenberger hitting a sacrifice fly and Blackwill’s suicide squeeze plated another run.
In the second, Great Bend increased its lead to 9-2 before TMP-Marian scored six runs to pull within 9-8 in the third, chasing Marshall.
But the Chiefs answered back with two runs for an 11-8 lead in the bottom of the inning on RBI singles by Marshall and Leuenberger.
The Monarchs scored a single run in the sixth to close the scoring.
AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL
At Great Bend
Al Burns Memorial Field
Great Bend 8,
Thomas More Prep-Marian 0 (5)
123 45 R H E
TMP-Marian 000 00 — 0 2 0
Great Bend 003 32 — 8 7 0
Nathan Zimmerman, Pierce Schippers (4) & Pfeifer; Mitch Kottas & Landon Leuenberger. W — Kottas. L — Zimmerman. 2B — TMP-Marian (Dylan Schumaker). 3B — Great Bend (Logan Buehler).