Box score gm 1 (PDF) | Box score gm 2 (PDF)
For the first four innings of game one of Monday’s home WAC doubleheader against Dodge City, the Panthers were digging a hole that looked impossible to climb out. Things looked promising, at first, for Great Bend as the Panthers took a 2-0 lead heading into the second inning when the rug was pulled by the visiting Demons. Dodge City went on a 13-run fury in their second at-bat and added an extra run in the third to take a 14-2 lead heading to the Great Bend third. Great Bend squeezed out a run in that frame and limped into a scoreless fourth down 14-3.
It was the bottom of the fifth where the Panthers turned the tables with 10 runs and inched their way a run closer to knotting the game trailing 14-13. Great Bend eventually tied the contest in the bottom of the seventh after holding the Demons scoreless in their final at-bat. Cue Jared Maneth. The Panther junior delivered in a big way with a single that brought Brady Michel across for the 15-14 walk off victory.
“I was proud of how the players fought back and after being down by that much,” said coach Randy Beck. “Hitting is so contagious and sometimes all it takes are a few breaks to get us rolling.”
Both teams combined for 25 hits in the first game of the twin bill as Michel finished at three for four. Jack Westhoff was perfect at two for two hitting while Shade Wondra batted three for five. Wondra, Hall and Michel each had doubles in the win with Michel also collecting a triple. Westhoff posted two stolen bases while Matt Zecha, Mauler and Hillman had a steal each.
“After Logan (Perry) got through the second inning he settled in and threw well against a very good hitting line-up,” Beck said. “What a big hit for Jared in the seventh to complete our comeback. The top of our order came through with some big hits when it was needed with runners in scoring position.”
Wondra (3-1) escaped with the win after an inning and two-thirds of relief. The senior closed the deal holding Dodge City hitless and scoreless with a walk and a strikeout.
In game two, the Demons pounded out 15 hits while holding the home team to seven as Dodge City claimed a 17-4 victory over the Panthers. Both teams combined for five errors.
It was Dodge City who brought the first score across in their opening at-bat. They added three more in their half of the second to take a 4-0 advantage heading to the bottom of the inning. Westhoff’s single scored a run and pulled Great Bend to within three down 4-1. The Demons then utilized a four-run attack in the top of the third to push the gap to an 8-1 advantage. The Panthers used a pair of RBI singles by Michel and Westhoff to narrow the spread in the bottom of the third trailing 8-3. Following a dormant top of the fourth by the visitors speedster Jacob Murray raced across the plate on a steal of home and cut the Panther deficit in half, 8-4. Dodge City turned the lights out on a Great Bend rally putting up nine unanswered runs over the final three innings for the win.
Mauler finished the game at two for three in the hitting department while Westhoff and Michel went two for four each. Michel added the second of his two triples in the effort.
Starter Anson Hall (1-1) recorded the loss for Great Bend pitching two and a third innings. Hall gave up eight runs on the same number of hits while walking one and striking out one.
“Their pitcher threw a good game against us,” said Beck. “Our pitchers struggled to get ahead of hitters and you can’t do that against a good hitting team like Dodge City.”
The Panthers, 8-8, remain at .500 on the season following Monday’s split with Dodge City. Great Bend will host Larned at 4 p.m. Thursday before preparing for regional on May 18.