HAYS — There’s some good news that comes out of a 7-2 debacle, a gut-wrenching loss for the Great Bend Chiefs to North Platte, Neb., in the final game of pool play on Saturday evening.
It comes in the guise of the Chiefs grabbing the No. 2 seed heading into today’s championship round of the Wild West Fest wood bat tournament.
Great Bend takes a 2-2 tourney record into today’s semifinal against the hometown Hays Eagles, starting at 1:30 p.m. at Larks Park. The winner of that game plays the Kansas Crush/Topeka Capitols winner in the championship game at 3:45.
As the temperatures soared into the triple digits once again on Saturday, the Chiefs’ meltdown didn’t occur until after the clouds rolled in and the thermometer dropped in the early evening.
Great Bend left-hander Connor Sell and North Platte right-hander Kade Fulchert were locked in a tight pitcher’s duel through six innings during a 2-2 ballgame.
Everything went south for the Chiefs (9-11) after that.
Five different Great Bend players committed errors in the top of the seventh as the wheels suddenly came off.
North Platte capitalized by sending nine batters to the plate and scoring five runs to to seize the 7-2 win.
Jack Kenny hit an RBI single and clean-up hitter Taylor Williams delivered the big blow for the Nationals, a three-run triple.
Fulchert retired 10 straight batters at one juncture in capturing the win for North Platte, which rallied from a 2-0 deficit.
Great Bend scored a pair of runs in the first, but weren’t heard from afterward.
Sell and Dakota Conaway drew consecutive walks before Mitch Kottas delivered a two-run triple for the Chiefs’ two-run lead.
Jordan Enderle’s RBI single in the second for North Platte chopped its deficit in half before Thatcher Vap jolted a Sell fastball for a solo home run over the left-field fence to lead off the fourth, tying the game.
CLASS AAA AMERICAN
Wild West Fest
Wood Bat Tournament
Hays High School
North Platte, Neb. 7, Great Bend 2
123 456 7 R H E
NP 100 010 5 — 7 8 0
GB 200 000 0 — 2 3 6
Kade Fulchert & Jim McKain; Connor Sell & Bryce Beck. W — Fulchert. L — Sell. 3B — Great Bend: Mitch Kottas; North Platte: Taylor Williams. HR — North Platte: Thatcher Vap.