Sometimes winning can have a snowball effect in Class AAA American Legion baseball action.
Such is the case for the Great Bend Chiefs, who ended a nine-game skid on Saturday, and then won the Chiefs Classic championship on Sunday, beating Hutchinson Blue 11-5 in the title game at the Great Bend Sports Complex.
“From inning No. 1, we came out and score two runs,” Great Bend head coach Michael Stettinger said, “which was huge because we got to play with the lead in the first inning. Then after that first inning, Tristan Hall got out and dominated the rest of the game for us.”
The game was a confidence booster for the Chiefs (3-10) after Hutch defeated them 22-1 in pool play on Friday night. They play host to McPherson in a doubleheader tonight, with the first game starting at 6 at the Sports Complex.
“One thing that we preach in our high school and summer programs is always compete for the next pitch, the next inning and the next game,” Stettinger said. “Whatever’s done in the past, we can’t control.
“We just want to come out and play like it’s a new game. We want to play the game and not the team.”
Tristan Hall, a right-hander, turned in a complete-game pitching performance, including 10 strikeouts and five shutdown innings.
“Anytime you can get zeroes thrown up there for consecutive innings, it’s great,” Stettinger said. “Tristan had all of his pitches working today, and he was locating with everything. He just had a dominant performance today.”
Great Bend struck first, scoring two runs in the top of the opening inning.
Johnny Allende hit a towering sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Jaxx Hillman. Braden Jones lined an RBI single into center field.
Hutchinson put up four runs in the bottom of the first, but the Chiefs responded with five runs in the second, chasing Hutch starting pitcher Emilio Tafolla for Jake Stiverson.
Allende and Dillon Reiser, who later scored on a passed ball, each hit RBI singles, Jones drew a bases-loaded walk to score a run and Matthew Zecha was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
“It’s just situational hitting, just get them in,” Reiser said. “It’s feels really good. I got to give it to my teammates for getting on and getting me in that position.”
With two outs in the top of the fourth, Great Bend added two more runs on a Shade Wondra RBI double and Jared Maneth scoring on an error.
After the bottom of the first, Hutchinson didn’t score again until it scored one run in the sixth.
Chiefs added two more insurance runs after Reiser hit a run-scoring single and Allende scored on a passed ball.
“Dillon’s been a great hitter for us all year, but he’s really turned it on this last week,” Stettinger said. “He’s just continued his success this week and just upgraded his presence at the plate.”
CLASS AAA AMERICAN LEGION
At Great Bend Sports Complex
Great Bend 11, Hutchinson Blue 5
123 456 7 R H E
GB 250 200 2 — 11 11 0
Hutch 400 001 0 — 5 7 1
Tristan Hall & Jared Maneth; Emilio Tafolla, Jake Stiverson (2) & Ryan Stoecklein. W — T. Hall. L — Tafolla. 2B — Great Bend (Shade Wondra); Hutch (Trevor Turner). 3B — Hutch (Turner).