The Great Bend Braves spent Tuesday night’s opener with Pratt playing catch-up during baseball action at the City of Great Bend Sports Complex.
Pratt, clinging to an 8-7 lead and surviving numerous Braves rallies, finally gave itself some breathing room. It scored three runs in the sixth inning and then added one more in the seventh to hold on for a 12-8 victory in the first game of a Class A American Legion doubleheader.
“This group of kids, they have battled all season long,” said Braves head coach Jordan Metro after his team dropped to 6-5 on the season. “We’ve been down in games before and last week against McPherson, we were down 12-2 and came back and ended up winning that game.
“They keep fighting, and our bats keep getting better every game. It’s a process, and we’re starting to come around with the bats and our defense.”
Down 11-7 entering the sixth, Great Bend closed to 11-8 after Tristan Hall’s two-out RBI double, driving in Mitch Johnson, who led off the inning with a single. But the Braves’ Dillon Reiser hit a line smash back up the middle and Pratt pitcher Brett Forshee stabbed the ball for the third out.
Pratt’s Drake Everett hit a run-scoring single in the top of the seventh to push its lead back up to 12-8.
In a decisive three-run sixth, Everett hit an RBI double and Jared Gilmore and Forshee stroked run-scoring singles for a four-run Pratt lead.
The Braves never had the lead, although they tied the game twice. They trailed 2-1 after one inning, 5-2 entering the bottom of the third, 8-5 in the fifth, 11-7 in the sixth and 12-8 in the seventh.
Great Bend tied the game at 5-5 in the third, capped by a two-run home run over the fence in left-center field by Lance Ward.
“It felt really good coming off my bat,” Ward said. “I had a feeling that it was gone. Right off the hands, it felt really good.
“We had a strong breeze coming through, and it was shot right there.”
Pratt answered by scoring three runs in the top of the fourth off Braves losing pitcher Tyler Nuss, highlighted by Forshee’s two-run single, for an 8-5 lead.
But the Braves closed within 8-7 after scoring a pair of runs with two out in the fourth, including an RBI single by Hall, along with Nuss scoring on a Pratt error on a play at third base.
Pratt, though, like it had done the entire game, had an answer.
Early on, Pratt capitalized on a pair of Great Bend errors for a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Venerd led off the game with a triple into the gap in left-center field and scored when Everett reached on an error on a ground ball on the infield. Forshee later singled in Everett for Pratt’s second run.
Great Bend closed to 2-1 in the bottom of the first after Hall lifted a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Logan Zecha. Zecha singled to left, Nuss dropped a single into shallow center, advancing Zecha to third, and Hall then delivered his fly ball.
Ward’s RBI single in the second tied the game at 2-2 before Pratt answered with a trio of runs in the third.
CLASS A AMERICAN LEGION
At Great Bend
City of Great Bend
Pratt 12, Great Bend 8
123 456 7 R H E
Pratt 203 303 1 — 12 12 1
GB 113 201 0 — 8 10 2
Brett Forshee & Drake Everett; Tyler Nuss, Shade Wondra (6) & Jack Westhoff. W — Forshee . L — Nuss. 2B — Pratt: Will Fellholfer; Great Bend: Tristan Hall. 3B — Pratt: Dakota Venerd, Devin Everett; Great Bend: Dillon Reiser. HR — Great Bend: Lance Ward.