BY JIM MISUNAS
The “Miracle Great Bend Chiefs” emerged in postseason last year. The Legion Chiefs shocked the Hays Eagles 3-1 and McPherson 9-8 to capture a berth in the AAA state tournament. The Chiefs continued its surprising postseason run with hard-fought wins over Chanute 2-0, Nickerson 5-4 and the Hays Eagles 10-7 to reach the AAA state championship game.
The younger Great Bend Braves pulled off a similar finish by reaching the A state championship game against Emporia.
“It’s a group that battles and fights for every out,” said Travis Kurth, Chiefs’ coach. “They’ve come back before and they understand they are never out of a ballgame.”
The Chiefs (21-11) face a similar challenge against powerhouse Hays (30-4) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Great Bend Sports Complex. The winner faces the Salina Falcons (26-2) at 8 p.m. in the AAA Zone tournament. The Chiefs have won three times against Nickerson and beat the Kansas Senators, a AAA state qualifier.
The Hays Eagles beat the Chiefs 10-2 and 12-1. The Salina Falcons downed the Chiefs 8-0 and 12-2 to capture the Ottawa Tournament. Salina’s Cade Sterrett threw a shutout and Ethan Kickhaefer yielded two runs.
“Salina and Hays are right there with any baseball team we’ve played,” said Kurth. “Salina showed us two dominant pitchers. Hays really hit the baseball in our two games against them. They are both solid baseball teams.”
The odd 3-team pairing forces Great Bend and Hays to likely preserve some quality pitchers for game 2 and game 3. Two teams qualify for AAA state at Emporia.
Chiefs’ No. 1 pitcher Colin Hall (4-2) is backed up by Calan Haberman (3-0), Townshend Kurth (3-1) and Alex Schremmer (3-2).
“We’ve talked about this for some time, but we haven’t decided what we’ll do other than probably save Colin Hall for an elimination game,” Kurth said. “Colin does a great job throwing strikes and mixing his pitches.”
Kurth said the Chiefs will have to play their best baseball to compete.
“It’s a challenge to hit against quality pitching, and we’ll have to accomplish that,” Kurth said. “We’ve hit the ball. We’ve got it to do that against good pitchers.”
2018 CHIEFS SCHEDULE (21-11)
WW—Ottawa (Ottawa 8-3 W Hall), Kansas Senators 9-1 (W Kurth)
LL—Ottawa (Salina Falcons 0-8 (L Smith), 2-12 (L E. Bujanda)
WW—Nickerson 3-2 (W Schremmer), 6-4 (W Soupiset)
WW—Ellinwood 12-0 (W Haberman), 13-5 (W Olivas)
WL—Nickerson 7-5 (W Hall), 0-15 (L Smith)
WW—Larned 14-5 (W Haberman), 15-0 (W Kurth)
W—Wichita Aviators 14-3 (W Christiansen)
W—Creighton Prep 7-5 (W E. Bujanda)
L—Creighton Prep 0-2 (L Hall)
L—Elkhorn, Neb. South 1-9 (L Kurth)
L—Elkhorn, Neb. 2-6 (L Schremmer)
WL—Chiefs Classic TMP 1-5 (L Hall); Larned 11-1 (W J. Bujanda)
WW—Marion 13-6 (W Schremmer), 5-4 (W Haberman)
WW—Dodge City 11-0 (W Hall), 20-6 (W J. Bujanda)
WL—Larned 18-3 (W Kurth), 4-6 (L B. Kaiser)
L—hays 1-12 (L Schremmer)
W—Norton 14-0 (W Hall)
L—No. Colorado 3-7 (L Soupiset)
W—Hays A 9-7 (W Schremmer)
W—Hoisington 8-6 (W E. Bujanda)
L—Hays 2-10 (L Christiansen)
W—Wichita Aviators 27-3 (W Olivas)
AAA Zone—Hays Eagles
GREAT BEND CHIEFS
Coaches—Travis Kurth, Darrin Hall; manager Chris Smith