LARNED — After Great Bend High School cruised to a 12-1 run-rule baseball victory in the opening game on Thursday, Larned gave the Panthers fits in the nightcap.
The Indians closed to 5-4 after five innings, but the Panthers scored an insurance run in the sixth and held on for a 6-4 win and a doubleheader sweep of their nearby non-conference opponent.
Great Bend closes the regular season at 13-7 and now gets ready for Class 5A regional play on Tuesday. The Panthers’ postseason destination has yet to be determined — either a trip to Goddard or a trip to Hays.
Let Great Bend head coach Randy Beck explain.
“I’m pretty sure we’re going to be the No. 3 seed,” he said. “We’re not sure about the No. 1 and 2 seeds yet because Goddard (17-3) is done with the regular season and has three losses.
“Hays (16-2) has two losses, but they play Dodge City today and if Hays loses one, Goddard will be the top seed. But if Hays wins both of them, Hays will be the No. 1 seed … we travel to play the No. 2 seed.”
After breezing in the first game at Larned, the Panthers clung to a 5-4 lead in the nightcap after Easton Palmer’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the fifth inning drove in the first of two Indians runs.
But the Panthers answered with an insurance run in the sixth for a two-run lead.
Bryce Beck had a pinch-hit single to lead off the inning and moved to second on Bryce Hofmeister’s single. After Connor Sell’s sacrifice bunt moved the baserunners to second and third, Matt Marshall lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Beck.
With the tying run at the plate and one on in the bottom of the seventh, Marshall retired Tyler Stelter on a fly ball to right to end the game.
Larned’s Brady Keith led off the seventh with a single, but Braden Smith popped the ball up on the infield on a hit-and-run and Panthers third baseman Dakota Conaway caught the pop fly and threw to first baseman Wyatt Bayless for a double play.
Palmer, who finished 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs, singled to right field before Stetler was retired to end the game.
Starting pitcher Sell, relieved by Marshall in the fifth, got the win.
“This doubleheader really helped us out,” Randy Beck said. “I think we got confidence at the plate. We hit some balls hard right at some kids that were outs, but we also got a lot of base hits.”
The Panthers totaled eight hits in each of the games.
“We moved runners and we did a lot of good things to put guys in scoring position and then scored them,” Randy Beck said.
Just like the opener, the Panthers bolted to a 4-0 after one inning and led 5-0 in the second after Marshall delivered an RBI single.
Jeromy Bartz and Keith each drew walks to start Larned’s third. Palmer hit a one-out single to drive in Bartz and Keith scored on a Panthers error to make it 5-2.
The Tribe’s two runs in the fifth made it closer.
But GBHS was able to seal the deal.
“That’s kind of been our fault as of late, getting up early and holding on,” Randy Beck said. “But we did a lot of positive things we can take away from this doubleheader and get ready for Tuesday, wherever it may be, and we’re excited about that.”
Larned (3-15) will be the No. 8 seed in a 4A regional tournament for a first-round game next week, traveling to Pratt.
Great Bend 12, Larned 1 (5)
Braden Jones is a no-nonsense type of pitcher.
The Great Bend High School senior right-hander doesn’t waste time between pitches, and goes right after the hitters.
Jones struck out five of the first nine Larned hitters he faced, totaled seven for the game and finished with a one-hitter in a five-inning run-rule game.
Jordan Welch broke up Jones’ no-hit bid with a single in the second. Jones lost his shutout inte third after he hit Brady Keith
“I just like getting the ball, getting on the mound, getting my pitch and going,” said Jones (3-2). “I don’t want hitters to be able to take time to get ready.
“I felt real confident, I was in a groove from the get-go and I was hitting my spots.”
The Panthers supplied some early offense to make quick work of the Indians, just like Jones.
GBHS scored four runs in the first — Matt Marshall singled in a run, Mitch Kottas had a run-scoring double and Dakota Conaway had an RBI groundout — and never looked back.
GBHS increased its lead to 6-0 with a pair of runs in the second.
Chad Touslee drew a walk and Bryce Beck was hit by a pitch, followed by Connor Sell’s sacrifice bunt, which Touslee and Beck in scoring position on second and third. Marshall followed by driving in Touslee on an RBI groundout, and Bowman reached on an error, enabling Beck to score the second run.
The Panthers blew it open with six runs in the third, highlighted by Sell’s three-run double and Bowman’s RBI double.
Bowman, who entered the twinbill with a team-leading .508 batting average, was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
Great Bend 12, Larned 1 (5)
123 45 R H E
Great Bend 426 00 — 12 8 2
Larned 001 00 — 1 1 4
Braden Jones & Eric Ruiz; Jordan Welch, Trey Krasinger (4) & Tyler Stetler. W — Jones . L — Welch. 2B — Great Bend: Mitch Kottas, Connor Sell, Jace Bowman.
Great Bend 6, Larned 4
123 456 7 R H E
Great Bend 410 001 0 — 6 8 2
Larned 002 020 0 — 4 7 2
Connor Sell, Matt Marshall (5) & Eric Ruiz; Easton Palmer, Trey Krasinger (6) & Tyler Stetler. W — Sell. L — Palmer. S — Marshall. 2B — Great Bend: Dakota Conaway.