Wyatt Bayless was getting ribbed by some of his teammates as they walked away from the City of Great Bend Sports Complex Friday evening.
“Was that a walk-off single?” someone asked, referencing Bayless’ two-run single in the bottom of the fifth inning, which put the 10-run rule into effect in the Great Bend Panthers’ 15-5 baseball romp past the Nickerson Panthers in the second game of a non-conference high school doubleheader.
No, Bayless’ base hit didn’t result in come-from-behind or tiebreaking fashion, which would fit the terminology of a walk-off hit. It simply put the finishing touches on a blowout victory and doubleheader sweep after the host Panthers won the first game, 5-2.
Nonetheless, Bayless was mobbed by his teammates on the field as they walked off with their fourth straight win, their second two-game sweep in as many days.
Bayless, like so many of his teammates, has made the most of his opportunities over the last two days. Bayless was 1 for 2, including a sacrifice fly, and had two RBIs during Great Bend’s win over Liberal in Thursday’s nightcap.
After losing three of its previous four, Great Bend (9-3) seems to be hitting its stride as it has now won four straight for the second time this season.
“I saw that their infield was draw-in and I was just trying to drive the ball out of the infield,” said Bayless of his one-out base hit down the left-field line, driving in Mitch Kottas and Dakota Conaway, both of whom earlier walked. “These last two doubleheaders, everybody has a mind-set where, ‘I’m going to get a hit.’ ”
Senior left fielder Kottas is in a hitting trance right now. He had a trio of triples in the twinbill. The clean-up hitter hit a three-run triple in the first inning of the nightcap to highlight a seven-run surge and help send Great Bend to its easy win.
Senior second baseman Jace Bowman, who was 3-for-3 in game two and 5-for-6 in the two games, clubbed a two-run single to right-center to drive in the final two runs in the opening inning of the second game.
Great Bend also scored two runs in each of the next four innings, giving pitcher Matt Marshall plenty of cushion in his five-inning complete game. The junior right-hander allowed only five hits, including three in the first inning and two in the third.
Marshall, Conaway, Eric Ruiz and Chad Touslee also swatted base hits. Touslee’s single drove in a pair of runs, and Bryce Beck circled the bases in the fourth inning after driving the ball into the alley in right-center. He was credited with a triple as second baseman Conor Gomes momentarily bobbled the ball after a relay throw to the edge of the infield enabled Beck to score easily after rounding third base.
Nickerson pitcher Quintin Crandall, a touted Hutchinson Community College signee, didn’t pitch in either game. Sporting a 6-0 record, Crandall is slated to pitch on Tuesday when Nickerson takes on Pratt in conference play.
Crandall, who had two of the visiting Panthers’ hits in the nightcap with a single and double in his only two at-bats, had to leave the second game in the bottom of the third. He fielded a Kottas ground ball that deflected off Nickerson third baseman Sean Rodriguez and awkwardly threw him out at first. He left the game with a sore arm, but reports out of Nickerson indicated that he will be fine and likely won’t miss his next start.
Great Bend travels to Dodge City on Tuesday for a Western Athletic Conference doubleheader to take on the Red Demons at Demon Field, where they have a new artificial turf infield. The first game starts at 4.
GBHS then travels to Hays on Thursday to take on Thomas More Prep-Marian for another pair of games, also starting at 4.
Great Bend 5, Nickerson 2
Right-handed pitcher Braden Jones scattered four hits over seven innings while striking out seven visiting Panthers.
Great Bend scored single runs in the first and second, getting an RBI single by Marshall, driving in Connor Sell, who led off the first by getting hit by a pitch.
Great Bend led 2-0 through two innings after Kottas led off the inning with a triple and scored on a wild pitch.
Nickerson chopped the lead in half in the top of the third after Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly to left drove in Jacob Mader, who led off with a single.
Kottas was 3-for-3 in the opener, sandwiching a single in the fourth with his aforementioned triple in the second and another triple in the fifth.
Bowman, who was 2 for 3, doubled home Sell, who reached on an error. Marshall was 1 for 2 with two runs batted in and he also had a sacrifice fly to right in the fifth, driving in Sell for Great Bend’s final run.
HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
Western Athletic Conference
At Great Bend
City of Great Bend
Great Bend 5, Nickerson 2
123 456 7 R H E
NHS 001 001 0 — 2 4 2
GBHS 110 120 x — 5 9 1
Jake Engelland & Ryan O’Toole; Braden Jones & Eric Ruiz. W — Jones. L — Engelland. 3B — Great Bend: Mitch Kottas 2, Jace Bowman.
Great Bend 15, Nickerson 5 (5)
123 45 R H E
NHS 212 00 — 5 5 3
GBHS 722 22 — 15 9 1
Conor Gomes, Jake Stiverson (1), Ryan O’Toole (4) & Sam Berridge; Matt Marshall & Eric Ruiz. W — Marshall. L – Gomes. 2B — Great Bend: Jace Bowman; Nickerson: Quintin Crandall. 3B — Great Bend: Mitch Kottas, Bryce Beck.