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HAYS— Following a rained-out Thursday against host Hays, Great Bend managed to squeeze in two games Friday at this year’s Western Diamond Classic.
After a 13-12 edging of Goddard in the first contest, the Panthers were not able to overcome a three-run rally by Life Prep as the Fire claimed a 7-6 win. Another rain-soaked afternoon in the final day of play Saturday sent the Panthers back home with a 1-1 split.
“The Goddard game was a really good come-from-behind win for us especially after being down by seven,” said coach Randy Beck. “It would have been easy to fold but these kids have fight and we answered back with six runs of our own.”
In the win against Goddard, Anson Hall had a productive day at the plate hitting three for four While Brady Michel and Jack Westhoff finished at two for four each. Both teams combined for 28 hits.
Serving as the designated home team in the first game, Great Bend struck first and early with a one run outing in the bottom of the opening inning. Goddard fired back with a big four-run top of the second to take a 4-1 lead before the Panthers cut their deficit in half with another one-run frame in the bottom half of the frame. The Lions used a five run attack in the ensuing inning to spread their lead, 9-2 before a six-run assault by the Panthers in the bottom of the third tightened the belt with Goddard sporting a 9-8 advantage.
The Lions reeled in a run in the fourth to spread the gap, 10-8 before Great Bend reeled in three runs in the fifth to take the go ahead by a slim 11-10 margin. Goddard jumped back to the front in their final offensive frame with a pair of runs leading 12-11. A big hit by Shade Wondra down the line and a intentional walk to Hall put Michel to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. Michel delivered in a big way with a line drive to score Bryce Lytle and Wondra for the 13-12 victory.
“I had a really good feeling when Bryce walked with one out that we could finish this thing off,” said Beck. “The game was a slug out and we had the hammer. There’s no better feeling than getting a game-winning hit.”
Lytle (1-2) collected the win in relief and pitched the final two and two-thirds innings. Lytle allowed a pair of runs off of two hits, walked two and struck out four.
In game two against Life Prep, Great Bend scored a run in the top of the first inning before the Fire brought four scores across in the bottom half of the second to take a 4-1 lead. The Panthers put up a 5-0 drive over the next two innings and went up by a narrow 6-4 spread. Life Prep saddled three runs in the sixth while snuffing a Great Bend rally in the seventh for the 7-6 Fire win.
Wondra (2-1) was tagged with the loss after working the final out of the game. Wondra yielded a hit and a strikeout in the effort.
“It was a tough loss after coming off a high in game one,” Beck said “Especially to give up two runs with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.
“I felt like we gave a few at-bats away in the latter innings of the game and struggled to string hits together on their reliever,” he continued. “Some of our pitchers were on pitch counts because of our upcoming games with Dodge City but our relievers came in and did a fine job. Logan (Perry) was just getting in a groove when we had to pull him in game two. That is a tough call but right now our priority is Dodge City on Monday,” he said.
In the hitting department, Hall and Michel went two for three and two for four respectively in the three hole and clean up against the Fire.
The Panthers are 7-7 on the season following the split at Hays. Great Bend will face Dodge City at the Great Bend Sports Complex in a makeup game Monday, May 11. First pitch of the WAC twin bill is scheduled for 4 p.m.