NICKERSON— After a heartbreaking loss, the Great Bend baseball Panthers rallied with a near-perfect game.
Great Bend roared to a 16-0 victory with a one-hitter to earn a split after Nickerson won the opener 7-6 Friday. Nickerson is 8-6 and Great Bend is 6-6.
The Panthers dominated the second game.
Great Bend’s Shade Wondra worked the fourth inning after three shutout innings by starter Brady Michel. Justin Engelland beat out an infield hit for Nickerson’s lone base hit.
“My slider was working really good. I got a lot of hitters swinging on that pitch,” Michel said. “I got a lot of groundballs on my low fastballs. That helped a lot. It gave me a lot of confidence when I saw that run support.”
Jack Westhoff led a 15-hit attack with four hits, three runs scored and two runs batted in.
“First time, I’ve had four hits,” he said. “I gained confidence after each hit. We found a lot more grass in game two. We’re still in the hunt for Western Athletic if we beat Dodge City.”
Shade Wondra had two doubles and four runs batted in. Bryce Lytle drove in three runs and scored three runs. Maneth singled in two runs.
Great Bend moved ahead 7-0 and put the game away with a nine-run fourth inning.
“We hit the ball hard, line drives and got on top of the baseball,” said Great Bend coach Randy Beck. “We hit hard groundballs. That’s something we need to continue to do. We’ve got great competition next week that we need to prepare for.”
Beck said his team faces a challenging week with a twin bill against Dodge City and four games at the Hays Diamond Classic.
NICKERSON 7, GREAT BEND 6
Nickerson converted two double plays and Caleb McLean delivered a three-run double in the opener.
Nickerson broke a 5-5 tie when Braden Stewart doubled home Casey Goble and Jacob Mader singled home Stewart for a 7-5 fourth-inning lead.
Matt Zecha’s double brought home Anson Hall to slice the lead to 7-6 in the fifth. But Nickerson pitcher Casey Goble stranded the tying runner in the sixth and seventh innings.
“Casey Goble did a good adjusting his curveball on his arm angle and release point after the second inning.” said Nickerson coach Sheldon Stewart. “He started using his changeup more. Casey did a good job keeping them off balance.”
Great Bend led the opener 4-1 when McLean’s double eluded Great Bend’s outfielders to clear the bases for a 4-4 tie. Nate Gardner followed with a go-ahead double for a 5-4 lead off losing pitcher Brett Basye.
Shortstop Braden Stewart and first baseman Justin Engelland turned double play and third baseman Ben Smalling made several solid plays.
Great Bend’s Brayden Smith and Jaax Hillman each drove in two runs. Great Bend stranded five runners. Outfielder Jack Westhoff saved several runs with a diving catch and turned a double play. Catcher Jared Maneth threw out two runners.
“We lacked hustle and the want to win a little bit,” said Beck. “We thought we’d pull it out. We hit the ball really well. We needed another hit to finish it off. You’ve got to work on staying back. There were a few swings where we did not stay back.”