c BY JIM MISUNAS
GODDARD – As former New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
Great Bend’s baseball team will return to Goddard Eisenhower Wednesday in an instant replay of last year’s 5A postseason play.
The Panthers (14-6) were one run away from earning a home site for postseason play when Eisenhower’s Tyner Horn delivered a game-winning RBI single off reliever Sage Koelsch for a 3-2 victory.
It’s an identical situation that the Panthers faced in 2021. Eisenhower won 6-0 and 13-4 in the season ending twin bill, and Eisenhower won 9-0 in 5A postseason play.
PANTHERS 4, EISENHOWER 0 (G1) – Stefan Spray and reliever Tyler Stuhlsatz (2-2) shut out the Tigers on four hits in a brilliant pitching performance.
The Panthers’ defense delivered all of the defensive plays as Eisenhower stranded seven runners. Backup second baseman Maddux Spray turned a line drive into a double play. Owen Rush grounded out in the seventh inning against Stuhlsatz with the game-winning runner in scoring position.
A misplayed bunt laid down by Sage Koelsch opened the door for a 4-run eighth inning off Eisenhower pitcher Tyner Horn (3-1). Pinch runner Bradley Hopkins scored on Brad Beck’s groundball that was misplayed. Haberman’s hit-by-pitch drove home Koelsch. Gruber scored on Stefan Spray’s forceout. Stuhlsatz provided insurance with a single that scored Beck for a 4-0 lead.
EISENHOWER 3, PANTHERS 2 (G2) – The Panthers’ ace righthander Chayse Gruber (5-2) threw 59 pitches in four shutout innings. Gruber (5-2) has yielded five earned runs in 46 innings, a 0.73 earned run average with 52 strikeouts and 11 walks.
Panther reliever Paco Hernandez wasn’t so fortunate.
The Panthers staked Gruber to a 2-0 lead. Gruber doubled home Hernandez. Beck’s perfect bunt single was followed by Gavin Haberman’s RBI single that scored Gruber. Reliever Cameron Clark rescued the Tigers by retiring Stefan Spray, Stuhlsatz and Joseph Moeder with runners on second and third base.
The Tigers turned three consecutive fifth-inning walks by Hernandez into a 2-run single by Carson Adams for a 2-2 tie.
Great Bend stranded go-ahead runners on base in the sixth and seventh innings.
A trio of walks, two intentional, enabled Horn to deliver the game-winner on an 0-2 count against Koelsch.
Great Bend 000 000 04 – 4 4 1
Eisenhower 000 000 00 – 0 4 0
Stefan Spray, Stuhlsatz (4) and Beck. Horn, Omli (8) and Bucher. W—Stuhlsatz, 2-2. L—Horn, 3-1. 2B—GE—Rogers
Great Bend 000 020 0 – 2 8 0
Eisenhower 000 020 1 – 3 4 2
Gruber, Hernandez (5), Koelsch (7) and Beck. Cooper Adams, Clark (5), Omli (7) and Bucher. W—Omli, 3-1. L—Hernandez, 2-2. 2B—GE—Carson Adams.
TUESDAY–1 Topeka Seaman 18-2 vs. 16 Emporia 5-15; 8 Maize High 13-7 vs. 9 Hays High 12-8
WEDNESDAY–2 Wichita Carroll 16-4 vs. 15 Salina Central 6-14; 7 Goddard 13-7 vs. 10 Andover Central 12-8
TUESDAY–3 Maize South 15-5 vs. 14 Salina South 8-12; 6 Valley Center 14-6 vs. 11 Newton 12-8
WEDNESDAY–4 Goddard Eisenhower 14-5 vs. 13 Arkansas City 8-12, 4:30 p.m.; 5 Great Bend 14-6 vs. 12 Wichita Kapaun Mt. Carmel 11-9, 2 p.m.