By JIM MISUNAS
HAYS – Sunday’s Class A American Legion State baseball championship starts at a perfect time – 10 a.m.
The Great Bend Braves kept their charmed season alive with their fourth consecutive victory 9-1 over the Andover Jaguars Saturday in the Sunshine Bracket.
The Braves upset Emporia 3-2 in Saturday’s first championship game to force a second championship game at Hays High. The Braves (31-14) have swept five consecutive games in the losers bracket. Sunday’s state champion qualifies for the Class A Midwest Regional Aug. 3-6 at Fargo, N.D.
Pitcher Colin Hall was the Braves’ super hero. Hall started both games Saturday, drove in the game-winning run and caught the game-changing double play against Emporia.
“We have a great baseball team. These guys have hearts of gold,” said Great Bend Braves coach Travis Kurth. “Playing for a championship is what we work all summer for. There is nothing you’d rather have. We’ve had good ‘mojo’ in the 10 a.m. in the first-base dugout.”
• BRAVES 3, EMPORIA 2 — Rallying from a 2-0 deficit against Emporia (24-2) was child’s play for the Braves. A week ago, the Great Bend Braves stunned the Pratt 86ers with a miraculous comeback from an eight-run deficit.
Riley Wagner’s two-run single scored Beau Baumgardner and Clayden for a 2-0 Emporia lead off Colin Hall, who pitched four innings.
Calan Haberman singled home Riley Smith to spark a three-run third inning off Skyler Beatty. Nahum Olivas scored on Townshend Kurth’s sacrifice fly. Hall delivered the game-winning single to score Haberman for a 3-2 lead.
Emporia stranded seven baserunners and batted one-for-eight with runners in scoring position. Hall switched to third base and turned Clayden’s line drive into a fifth-inning double play with shortstop Kurth. Soupiset retired Trevin Ginther and Beatty to work out of a sixth-inning jam.
“They rallied back like warriors,” coach Kurth said. “Colin Hall’s double play was a big momentum shift.”
• BRAVES 9, ANDOVER JAGUARS 1 — Proof that it’s the Bujandas’ world and we’re all living in it was provided by Jesus Bujanda, who drove in three runs with a two-run triple and an RBI single against the Jaquars. Eduardo Bujanda has driven in 13 runs in six tournament games.
Hall drove in Kurth with a first-inning groundout. The Braves delivered a five-run second inning. Calan Haberman singled home Riley Smith. Kurth singled home Dalton Barfield. Hall’s single scored Haberman. Jesus Bujanda and Soupiset followed with RBI singles to score Kurth and Hall for a 6-1 lead.
Jesus Bujanda drilled a two-run triple to score Kurth and Hall and Eduardo Bujanda hit a sacrifice fly to score his brother for a 9-1 lead.
• BRAVES 6, ANDOVER TROJANS 3 — Eduardo Bujanda was a one-man wrecking crew with a three-run homer and six innings of pitching. The Great Bend Braves outlasted the Andover Trojans 6-3 in Friday's consolation game in the Class A American Legion State Baseball Championship.
Bujanda drilled a three-run homer in the first inning and pitched into the sixth inning of a 6-3 victory over the Andover Trojans. Eduardo Bujanda was coming off a career-best six RBI-game against the Salina Hawks.
He blasted a first-inning pitch from Grady Schmidt over the left-field wall for his second home run of the state tournament to score Jesus Bujanda and Joey Soupiset for a 4-0 lead. Calan Haberman scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead.
The Braves gained a huge advantage by playing their second consecutive 10 a.m. game while the sleep-deprived Trojans finished play at 10 p.m. Thursday.
“It was a good job by our offense to get ahead,” said Kurth. “We got comfortable at the plate early in the game.”
The Braves added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Colin Hall’s single scored Haberman, who reached on a fourth-inning error. Jesus Bujanda reached on an error and scored on a groundout by Joey Souipset in the fifth inning.
Eduardo Bujanda struck out six batters while yielding two earned runs. Kolby Schmidt hit an RBI single in the second inning. Cole Elder delivered an RBI single and Schwien scored on an error.
“Eduardo pitched his heart out,” Kurth said.
Reliever Joey Soupiset worked out of sixth-inning trouble with a groundball out against Grady Schmidt to strand two baserunners. Soupiset struck out two batters in the seventh inning.
“Joey Souipset put out the fire in the sixth inning,” Kurth said. “He threw two pitches and got of it.”
LEGION A STATE, HAYS
SUNDAY’S GAME—10 a.m.—Great Bend Braves (31-14) vs. Emporia (24-2)
SATURDAY’S GAMES—Great Bend 9, Andover Jaguars 1; Great Bend 3, Emporia 2
FRIDAY’S GAMES--Great Bend 6, Andover Trojans 3; Olathe Royals 5, Chapman 2; Emporia 7, Andover Jaguars 6; Great Bend 5, Olathe Royals 0
THURSDAY’S GAMES--GB Braves 17, Salina Hawks 4; Chapman 7, Hays Eagles 6; Andover 15, Olathe 5; Emporia 8, Andover Trojans 6
WEDNESDAY’S GAMES--Olathe Royals 11, Great Bend Braves 1; Andover Jaguars 11, Salina Hawks 8; Andover Trojans 6, Chapman 0
Emporia 12, Hays Eagles 0
BRAVES 6, ANDOVER TROJANS 3
Trojans 010 002 0 — 3 6 3
Braves 400 000 x — 6 6 1
G. Schmidt and K. Schmidt. E. Bujanda, Soupiset (6) and Hall. W—E. Bujanda. L—G. Schmidt. 2B—GB—Hall; A—Evans. HR—GB—E. Bujanda.
BRAVES 9, ANDOVER JAGUARS 1
Jaguars 01 00 — 1 5 2
Braves 150 3x — 9 10 2
Thatcher, Warrington (2), Garretson (4) and Hayes. Hall and J. Bujanda. W—Hall. L—Thatcher. 3B—GB—Kurth, J. Bujanda; AJ—Garretson.
BRAVES 3, EMPORIA 2
Emporia 200 000 0 — 2 8 1
Braves 003 000 x — 3 3 1
Hall, Soupiset (5) and E. Bujanda. Beatty and Baumwart. W—Hall. L—Beatty. Sv—Soupiset. 2B—E—Baumwart.