With several of their veteran arms tired heading into Thursday night’s Class AAA American Legion doubleheader against Buhler at the Great Bend Sports Complex, Great Bend Chiefs head coach Michael Stettinger had to throw several young pitchers on the mound.
The result was a Buhler run-ruling the Chiefs 15-2 in four innings and 10-1 in six.
“We had all the young guys throw tonight, and we obviously have confidence in them or we wouldn’t put them out there,” Stettinger said. “We weren’t able to throw strikes. In Game 1, we just walked too many guys, and they took advantage of it.
“When they had the bases loaded, they came up with a big hit.”
Great Bend, which played its third doubleheader in as many days on Thursday night, issued 16 free passes in the doubleheader, 11 in the first game.
Great Bend starting pitcher Tyler Nuss struggled from the outset of Game 1. He walked four batters in the top of the first, bringing in two runs for a 2-0 Buhler advantage.
The Chiefs offense responded in the bottom of the inning.
Logan Zecha, who was 2-for-2 with a double, led off with a single. Johnny Allende drew a walk, and Dillon Reiser drove them both home with a single.
“Logan’s been a very consistent hitter for us all year,” Stettinger said. “That’s why we have him leading off. His on-base percentage has been really high, and he had a good night for us.”
Buhler starting pitcher Dustin Rush kept Great Bend tied up after giving up those two runs.
The Chiefs only managed three hits, and couldn’t take advantage of three Buhler errors.
In the second inning, Buhler got to Nuss, who went 2 innings.
The Nationals started the top of the second with back-to-back-to-back doubles, taking a 5-2 lead.
Buhler added to that in the third, scoring nine runs.
The Chiefs threw three pitchers in the inning, pulling Nuss with one out. Anson Hall faced six batters before Stettinger brought in Brett Basye.
After three batters, Basye was able to get Trey Devore to ground into a double play, one of two the Chiefs turned in the game.
Buhler, which had seven different players hit doubles in the game, scored one more run in the top of the fourth.
“It seemed like everything they hit was off the fence, pretty much gapper after gapper,” Stettinger said. “They didn’t hit too many singles. It’s tough to play when they have those hits and the bases are loaded half the time.”
In Game 2, Buhler got its first run across the plate in the top of the second as Dalton Miller drove in Derek Simmons.
Buhler scored two runs on an error, and another on a Hershberger RBI single to make it 4-0 in the top of the third.
“They had really timely hitting,” Stettinger said, “and we didn’t in the fact that when we hit balls hard with guys in scoring position it was right at somebody. We hit into some double plays. We really hammered the ball right at someone.”
Chiefs starting pitcher Jaxx Hillman walked the first two batters he faced in the top of the fourth before he was relieved by Shade Wondra.
Hillman allowed four runs on three hits.
With three more runs in the fourth, Buhler jumped to a 7-0 advantage before Great Bend got on the board.
Anson Hall hit a two-out single, and Logan Zecha, who came in as a courtesy runner, scored from first on an Alex Deist double in right field.
Buhler scored three runs in the top of the sixth, and got the first three Great Bend batters to enact the run rule.
With the losses, the Chiefs fall to 7-27 to end the regular season.
Great Bend is the No. 3 seed, traveling to Dodge City on Tuesday night for a game against Garden City at 5.
CLASS AAA AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL
At Great Bend
Great Bend Sports Complex
Buhler 15, Great Bend 2 (4)
123 4 R H E
Buhler 239 1 — 15 10 3
Great Bend 200 0 — 2 3 2
Dustin Rush & Ryan Snow; Tyler Nuss, Anson Hall (3), Brett Basye (3) & Jared Maneth. W — Rush. L — Nuss. 2B — Buhler (Snow, Rush, Bryce Strecker, Pierce Billington, Trey Devore, Layne Regehr, Alex Hershberger); Great Bend (Logan Zecha).
Buhler 10, Great Bend 1 (6)
123 456 R H E
Buhler 013 303 — 10 9 1
Great Bend 000 100 — 1 7 3
Derek Simmons & Trey Devore; Jaxx Hillman, Shade Wondra (4), Gabriel Juarez (5), Dillon Reiser (6) & Anson Hall. W — Simmons. L — Hillman. 2B — Buhler (Layne Regehr, Alex Hershberger); Great Bend (Dillon Reiser).