HAYS — Trailing by one run, the Great Bend Chiefs had the tying and winning runs on base in the seventh inning against the Kansas Crush during the Wild West Fest Tournament on Friday afternoon at the Thomas More Prep Marian baseball field.
Crush reliever Scott Shinn, who entered the game to start the seventh and holding a 4-3 lead, surrendered singles to Great Bend’s Jace Bowman and Bryce Beck, sandwiching Mitch Kottas’ fly ball to center field for the first out.
But Braden Jones flew out to left and Daniel Herrman popped out to short to end the game as Shinn got the save against the Chiefs (8-10).
The turning point, according to Great Bend head coach Michael Stettinger, occurred back in the opening innings.
“We left the bases loaded in the first inning and we stranded a couple more in the second,” he said, “and that turned out to be the difference in the game.”
Herrman’s RBI single in the third, plating Kottas, gave the Chiefs their first run, and Dakota Conaway scored their second run in the fifth on Kottas’ RBI single.
Connor Sell had an RBI double in the sixth, driving in Brady Buehler, who drew a walk, but the Chiefs came up shy.
“They had a really good lineup, from No. 1 to the nine hole,” Stettinger said. “They swung it all the way through.
“Their starting pitcher (Jordan Floyd) threw it hard and he’s one of the hardest throwers we’ll see this summer.”
Hays Monarchs 3
Great Bend’s Nick Ney’s flirtation with his second no-hitter of the summer lasted into the fifth inning during Friday’s 9 a.m. game with the Hays Monarchs.
Ney, who threw a four-inning no-hitter earlier in the summer against Dodge City, appeared on the verge of another abbreviated one.
But Ney’s bid began slipping away after a Monarchs batter reached on an error on a ball hit on the right side of the infield in the fifth. The next batter, Nick Hammeke, followed by launching a two-run home run over the fence in left field, the first of four hits Hays would muster against Ney as the eight-run rule went into effect.
“I felt like I could do it during the fifth inning,” said Ney, a Barton Community College right-hander, of going for another no-hitter. “I guess I just lost focus when they hit that little blooper near first base.
“You know … I’m not worried about getting a no-hitter. I’m worried about our team winning and things like that.”
Ney doubled to lead off the second and scored the game’s first run on Bryce Hofmeister’s RBI single, the first of three straight singles for the Chiefs as Buehler and Beck also added base hits. Conaway’s RBI grounder made it 3-0.
All the while, Ney was building some momentum on the mound.
“I felt I had more confidence in my pitches,” Ney said. “My curveball was working a lot more and my fastball, I could place it more than I usually could.
“My past few games, we have been struggling. I just came out and pitched really well, I thought. I hope it continues.”
Stettinger said it was imperative for Ney to get the Chiefs off to a good start in the three-day tourney.
“We dominated the game from the start and our guys went into the game with the right approach,” he said. “It just sets the tone for the entire tournament.
“Any time you can come out and play that well, it makes everything easier.”
Jones and Bowman had two-run singles, and Beck had an RBI single during the Chiefs’ six-run fourth that turned the game into a massacre.