Don’t be surprised if the Great Bend High School baseball team sweeps Garden City today and Larned on Thursday in doubleheaders, the final week of the regular season.
Already twice this season, the Panthers have won four straight games only to lose three of the next four. As a result, they are 10-6 overall, needing every win here on out to improve their Class 5A regional seed for next week’s postseason.
“Actually we’re sitting in the middle of the pack,” Great Bend head coach Randy Beck said. “We need to win these next four to put ourselves in the best position we can going into regionals.”
The Panthers, who will likely to be playing on the road in regional play next week, lost a non-conference doubleheader to Thomas More Prep-Marian on the road in Hays last Thursday.
Those losses came after GBHS split a Western Athletic Conference doubleheader at Dodge City last Tuesday.
If the season’s history repeats itself, Great Bend is due for another four-game sweep this week. It entertains Garden City today in a WAC and home finale at the City of Great Bend Sports Complex, starting at 4 p.m.
The Panthers travel to Larned on Thursday, also starting at 4.
“We’ve talked about consistency and we want to put ourselves in position to win a game,” Beck said. “Those are things we’ve talked about in practice.”
Seniors Mitch Kottas and Jace Bowman have been mainstays for the Panthers on the mound and at the plate, respectively.
Kottas owns a microscopic 1.40 earned run average while posting a 3-0 record in six starts. In 30 full innings of work, he has allowed only 21 hits while registering a team-high 14 strikeouts.
Bowman, a model of consistency all season, is hitting a team-best .491 while leading the team in several categories, including at-bats (57), hits (28), singles (19), home runs (2) and runs batted in (19).
On the mound, senior right-hander Braden Jones has a 2-2 record and a 3.08 ERA in five game starts. He has 10 strikeouts — third on the team — and has pitched 25 innings, tied for second with sophomore utility man Bryce Beck.
A right-hander, Bryce Beck owns a 3-1 record and a 4.76 ERA in four game starts. He has 13 strikeouts, ranking second on the team.
Matt Marshall, a junior utility man/pitcher, is batting .417 with 20 hits in 48 plate appearances. He also ranks second on the team in singles (17) and is tied for second on the team with Kottas with 12 RBIs.
Batting a modest .288, Kottas has had several big at-bats, evidenced by the fact that eight of his 15 hits have gone for extra bases. He has five doubles and a team-high three triples.
Connor Sell, a senior outfielder/pitcher, is batting .380. He has also come through with a team-best eight doubles and also leads the team in walks (13) and runs (24).
Catcher Eric Ruiz is batting .333 (11 for 33). He has one homer and eight RBIs.