Great Bend High School left-hander Connor Sell nearly pitched a complete game and helped his own cause with his bat.
Sell scattered 11 hits against visiting non-conference foe Hoisington and helped stake the unbeaten Panthers to a 3-0 lead in the second inning with a two-run triple during their 12-2 run-rule victory in the first game of a baseball doubleheader on Thursday afternoon at Al Burns Memorial Field.
In game two, Great Bend, in between scoring single runs in the first and third, pushed across four runs in the second and then tacked on six in the fourth to put the run-rule into effect in a 14-1 rout to complete the sweep.
“We’ve continued to throw strikes and we’ve really put some runs on the board,” Great Bend head coach Randy Beck said of his 8-0 team. “We’ve had good at-bats, and that’s key as we go through the season."
In the opener, Darien Blackwill pounded a two-run triple and Sam Hafner had a two-run single in the fourth, highlighting a five-run uprising that stretched the Panthers lead to 8-0.
Blackwill, who entered Thursday’s doubleheader with a team-leading .667 batting average, finished 3-for-7 at the plate and finished with five runs batted in, boosting his team-high total to 18 RBIs. He now has a team-best 17 hits on the season.
“He’s really getting some good hacks, getting himself in some hitters’ counts,” Beck said of Blackwill. “He’s hitting the ball hard.”
Hoisington could find little consolation in out-hitting the Panthers 11-7 in the opener. Trouble was, the game was already out of reach when the Cardinals finally put some runs on the board.
The Redbirds had their leadoff hitter on base in each of the first four innings, stranded eight baserunners during that stretch and 12 for the game. They finally broke through in the fifth, ending Sell’s shutout bid with a pair of runs.
“Damage control,” said Beck of Hoisington’s hitting success in their season opener. “Our goal for our pitchers is to get routine ground balls and fly balls.
“Hoisington, they’re young and they’re going to be good and they’re going to have a pretty good season.”
The Cardinals’ Brady Moore hit a one-out double and after Sell recorded the second out, Trent Schremmer drew a walk before Dylan Bell singled to left to drive in Moore and make it 8-1. Bryce Steiner then followed with a single down the left-field line, scoring Schremmer to make it 8-2.
Sell then got out of the inning by recording his first strikeout. Coming on in relief of Sell in the sixth, who yielded a leadoff single to Brady Demel, Panthers reliever Matt Marshall retired three straight batters after giving up a single to Ryan Bieberle.
Great Bend put the 10-run rule into effect after capitalizing on three Hoisington errors to score four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Nick Ney had an RBI single and Logan Buehler added a two-run single.
“He’s just going to keep getting better,” Beck said of Sell, a junior. “He really hasn’t thrown that many innings this year (eight-plus). He is a key guy in our rotation and he’s going to have throw some key innings this season.
“Nick Ney (2-0) is off to good start for us on the mound, Mitch Kottas (1-0) threw a pretty good game today and he’s starting to get on track,” Beck said. “Matt Marshall has been coming in and throwing strikes and we have to continue to get better every day, if we’re going to have a progressive season.”
In the 14-1 blowout, Kottas, armed with a 6-0 cushion after two innings, retired the first seven batters he faced before giving up a single to Bryce Steiner with one out in the third.
But Kottas induced Hagen Hanzlick into an inning-ending double play on a soft fly to second baseman Jace Bowman, who snared the ball and nailed Steiner at first trying to retreat.
Hoisington got to Kottas for a single run in the fourth, breaking up his shutout bid, but probably came away thinking it should have had more.
Demel doubled to lead off the inning and scored on Bieberle’s single. Zink then followed with another double, putting runners on second and third and nobody out.
But Pike snared a grounder near the bag at first on Moore’s batted ball, stepped on the bag and threw home to catcher Landon Leuenberger, nailing Bieberle at the plate for a double play. Kottas then retired Bell on a pop-out to second to end the inning.
All the while, Great Bend jumped out to an early lead it kept building.
Blackwill hit an RBI single and Pike added an RBI sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead in the first, followed up by four runs in the second — an RBI double by Buehler, a two-run single by Bowman and a run-scoring single by Kottas.
Leuenberger and Bowman had RBI singles in the third to increase the margin to 8-0.
After the Redbirds scored their lone run, Great Bend answered six runs in the fourth and then Blackwill came on in relief of Kottas and faced only four batters in closing the door on Hoisington in the top of the fifth.
Great Bend is idle until a week from today, when it travels to Scott City for a twinbill, starting at 4 p.m.
HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
At Great Bend
Al Burns Memorial Field
Great Bend 12, Hoisington 2 (6)
123 456 R H E
Hoisington 000 020 2 11 5
Great Bend 030 504 12 7 3
Peyton Bullard, Kaleb Larson (4) & Bryce Steiner; Connor Sell, Matt Marshall (5) & Landon Leuenberger. W — Sell (2-0). L —Bullard (0-1). 2B — Hoisington (Brady Demel, Brady Moore); 3B — Great Bend (Sell, Darien Blackwill).
CRUNCHIN’ THE NUMBERS
Great Bend — Logan Buehler 2-for-4, 1 run, 2 RBIs; Jace Bowman 0-2, Sac. fly, RBI; Mitch Kottas 0-4, 2 runs; Darien Blackwill 1-4, 3B, 2 RBIs; Jeff Pike 0-3, BB, run; Cole Smith 1-2, BB; Matt Marshall 0-1; Sam Hafner 1-2, 2 runs, 2 BB, 2 RBIs; Landon Leuenberger 0-3; Nick Ney 1-1, run RBI; Connor Sell 1-3, 3B, 3 runs, HBP, 2 RBIs.
Hoisington — Brady Demel 2-for-4, 2B; Ryan Bieberle 2-4; Colton Zink 0-4; Brady Moore 1-4, 2B, run; Cole Umphrey 0-3, BB; Trent Schremmer 1-2, BB, run; Dylan Bell 3-3, RBI; Bryce Steiner 1-3, RBI; Erik Simpson 1-3.
Great Bend 14, Hoisington 1 (4 ½)
123 45 R H E
Hoisington 000 10 1 4 3
Great Bend 242 6x 14 8 0
Ryan Bieberle, Hagan Hanzlick (3), Brady Demel (4) & Colton Zink; Mitch Kottas, Darien Blackwill (5) & Landon Leuenberger. W — Kottas (1-0). L — Bieberle. 2B — Hoisington (Demel, Zink); Great Bend (Logan Buehler).
CRUNCHIN’ THE NUMBERS
Great Bend — Buehler 1-for-3, 2B, BB, 3 runs, 2 RBIs; Jace Bowman 2-3, HBP, 3 RBIs; Blackwill 2-3, 3 RBIs; Kottas 1-2, RBI; Jeff Pike 0-1, BB, Sac. fly, RBI; Cole Smith 1-3, 1B, RBI; Matt Marshall 1-2, HBP, run; Landon Leunberger 1-1, RBI; Stoss 0-1, 2 runs; Nick Ney 1 run; Connor Sell 0-1, BB, HBP.
Hoisington — Demel 1-for-2, 2B, run; Bierberle 1-2 RBI; Zink 1-2, 2B; Brady Moore 0-2; Dylan Bell 0-2; Trent Schremmer 0-2; Corie Umphrey 0-2; Bryce Steiner 2-2; Hanzlick 0-2.