DODGE CITY — With the Class AAA American Legion Zone Tournament just around the corner, the last thing the Great Bend Chiefs need is to lose one of their top pitchers.
But that’s exactly what happened Tuesday night during the first game of a doubleheader with the Dodge City Rangers. Chiefs right-hander Mitch Kottas pulled himself out of the game in the fourth inning and his team trailing 6-2 during an eventual 7-3 loss at Demon Field.
“I dragged my arm through the zone and it just didn’t feel right,” said Kottas, who motioned for Chiefs head coach Michael Stettinger to come out to the mound and address his ailing shoulder before leaving the game. “It’s happened before (earlier in the summer) and this time, it just hurt a little more than it did in the past.
“I knew I wasn’t helping anyone out by staying out there and trying to fight through it, so I thought we could get someone in that could actually compete rather than someone out there injured trying to compete.”
Enter left-hander Connor Sell, who allowed only one run the rest of the way, although the Chiefs never helped out offensively, totaling only four hits.
“The last couple outings, I’ve just focused mostly on throwing strikes and letting the defense kind of work behind me,” said Sell, who allowed one run, no hits and walked three in 2 1/3 innings. “If I get that mentality, then I know I can keep pounding strikes and pounding strikes.
“I kind of struggled there late (with control). Hopefully, I can keep that going into zone because we’re short on arms.”
The Chiefs ultimately were short on sticks. They had their only lead in the top of the first at 2-0. With one out, Danny Herrman walked and Jace Bowman doubled over the head of left fielder Dakota Duckett, advancing Herrman to third. Kottas then followed with a two-run double to right-center.
Dodge City tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Jordan Doan and an RBI groundout from Dylan Roy.
The Rangers extended their lead to 6-2 in the second, scoring four runs on only two hits.
After that, it was a case of the Chiefs playing from behind the rest of the way. They scored their final run in the fourth after Bryce Beck singled and came around to score.
Kottas, a pitcher/outfielder, is signing to play for Barton Community College today at the Lawson-Biggs Field clubhouse. It starts at 10 a.m.
Rangers 9, Chiefs 6
After sputtering offensively virtually the entire evening, the Chiefs suddenly came alive in the seventh against Dodge City reliever Doan.
Singles by Bowman, Beck and Brady Buehler, along with walks issued to Nick Ney, Braden Jones and Sell, helped the Chiefs close a 9-2 deficit to only three runs.
But Doan finally got out of the jam, as the Rangers completed the sweep.
Bowman finished 3-for-4 at the plate to lead the Chiefs (9-14), who close the regular season on Thursday, playing host to Thomas More Prep (Hays) at the Sports Complex. The doubleheader starts at 6.
Dodge City, which has now won six straight, improved to 18-21 overall.
CLASS AAA AMERICAN
At Dodge City
Dodge City Rangers 7,
Great Bend Chiefs 3
123 456 7 R H E
GB 200 100 0 — 3 4 3
DC 230 101 x — 7 6 1
Mitch Kottas, Connor Sell (4) & Bryce Beck; Cody Chance & BJ Tieben. W — Chance. L — Kottas. 2B — Great Bend: Jace Bowman, Mitch Kottas.