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Panthers roll past WAC champion



Great Bend pitcher Paco Hernandez believed he let his teammates down when he started a game the Panthers lost against Garden City last week.

The crafty lefthander (1-1) made amends with nine strikeouts to spark a shocking 11-2 victory over Hays High, the Western Athletic Conference baseball champion.

The victory gives Great Bend (8-3, 5-2 WAC) an opportunity to share the WAC championship with Hays (7-2, 6-2 WAC) if the Panthers beat Dodge City April 29.

“I really competed today. That’s one of the best games I’ve ever pitched,” Hernandez said. “That first part of the Hays lineup can really compete at the plate. I was confident today with my pitches.”

Hays Indian Dylan Dreiling batted 2-for-2, raising his average to .719 (23-for-32). But Hernandez induced four double plays on the top half of the lineup.

“I stayed mostly with my fastball,” Hernandez said. “My fastball was running away from right-handers. My curveball helped me out some. I threw strikes and let my defense work today. I had to win today’s game for my guys. It means a lot to me after what happened last week.”

The Panthers were spectacular defensively with four double plays, three which involved Hays batter Carson Spray. Shortstop Sage Koelsch started two double plays. Catcher Jade Poe and third baseman Chayse Gruber also triggered double plays.

Koelsch doubled up Dalton Dale in the first inning. Poe threw out pinch runner Toby May after Hernandez struck out Carson Spray. Carson Spray’s groundball turned into a 6-4-3 double play with second baseman Carter Coombs. Gruber turned Carson Spray’s groundball into a 5-4 twin killing.

“What a day for our defense,” said Great Bend baseball coach Randy Beck. “Paco got timely ground balls and Jade Poe made a terrific throw to second base. That’s a great way to pick up your pitcher. We slowed down a really good hitting team today.”

The Panthers jumped on Hays starter Carson Spray (1-1) for six earned runs and pounded reliever Blake Schmidt for four earned runs. Gavin Haberman delivered a pair of 2-run singles. Hernandez stayed red hot with three hits and a pair of RBIs.

“Up-and-down the lineup, we had good at-bats and stayed disciplined,” Beck said. “We got up early and kept putting good at-bats together. It was great to see the guys put a solid game together – pitching, hitting and defense.”

Gruber doubled home Hernandez in the first inning. Koelsch scored when Stefan Spray was hit by a pitch to ignite a 6-run third inning. Haberman drilled a 2-run single and Brad Beck followed with an RBI double. Haberman scored on a wild pitch and Beck scored on an error for a 7-0 lead.

Derek Riggs drilled an RBI single in the fourth inning, but a double play helped Hernandez work out of trouble as a second run scored.

Hernandez ripped a 2-run single to ignite a 4-run fifth inning. Haberman’s 2-run single scored Koelsch and Hernandez for an 11-2 lead.

Hays High 000 200 0 – 2 3 1

Great Bend 106 040 x – 11 13 3

Carson Spray, Wellbrock (3), Schmidt (5) and Riggs. Hernandez, Stefan Spray (7) and Poe. W—Hernandez, 1-1. L—C. Spray 1-1. 2B—GB—Gruber, Beck, Koelsch.


Hays High 6-2 7-2

Great Bend 5-2 8-3

Garden City 3-4 6-6

Dodge City 1-3 3-7

Liberal 1-5 6-5

4-19—*Great Bend 4, Dodge City 3; *Liberal 14, Garden City 5

4-21—*Great Bend 11, Hays 2

4-22—Wichita West, Scott City at Dodge City; Liberal at Wichita Life 

HAYS HIGH (6-2, 7-2)—WW *Liberal 12-2, 10-0; W Washburn Rural 14-4, 5-15 (suspended); WL *Garden City 15-3, 10-16; W *Great Bend 16-6; WW *Dodge City 8-2, 8-2; L *Great Bend 2-11; 4-23—at DeSoto (2); 5-5 to 5-7—at Hays Tournament (4); 5-10—Ulysses (2)

GREAT BEND (5-2, 8-3)—W Junction City 11-0; L McPherson 2-8; WW Hutchinson 7-6, 11-2; WW *Liberal 7-4, 10-1; L *Hays 6-16; WL *Garden City 5-4, 3-4; W *Dodge City 4-3; W *Hays High 11-2; 4-26—Hays-TMP (2); 4-29—*at Dodge City (1); 5-5 to 5-7—at Hays Tournament; 5-13—at Goddard Eisenhower

GARDEN CITY (3-4, 6-6)—W Newton 5-4; L Circle 1-2; L Augusta 3-6; W *Liberal 9-8; WW Goodland 14-3, 11-1; L *Dodge City 2-8; WL *Hays High 16-10, 3-15; WL *Great Bend 4-3, 4-5; L *Liberal 5-14; 4-26—Dodge City (1); 5-2—Lamar, Colo. (2); 5-6—at Emporia (4);  5-12—Hays-TMP (2)

DODGE CITY (1-3, 3-7)—LL Andover 5-7, 5-7; L Newton 6-8; L Valley Center 2-4; W *Garden City 8-2; WW Wichita South 15-5, 11-0; LL *Hays High 2-8, 2-8; L *Great Bend 3-4; 4-22—Wichita West, Scott City; 4-26—*at Garden City (1); 4-29—*Great Bend (1); 5-3—at Wichita, McPherson; 5-6/7—at Emporia; Maize South; 5-10—*at Liberal (1); 5-12—*Liberal (1)

LIBERAL (1-5, 6-5)—WW Hugoton 15-3, 15-3; L *Garden City 8-9; LL *Hays High 2-12, 0-10; LL *Great Bend 4-7, 1-10;  W Guymon, Okla. 13-2; WW Woodward, Okla. 19-12, 16-7; W *Garden City 14-5; 4-22-23—at Wichita Life; 4-25—Wichita South (2); 5-2—Elkhart (2); 5-10—*Dodge City (1); 5-12—*at Dodge City (1)