By Jim Misunas
Tristan Hall felt perfectly comfortable backing up his brother, Anson Hall, for the Great Bend baseball team.
Anson Hall did his work on the mound, pitching four shutout innings in a 12-2 second game victory over Nickerson Friday. He struck out two batters, picked off a runner and yielded two hits.
Tristan Hall delivered the offense with three hits, two doubles and three RBI.
“We’ve been working on hitting line drives rather than pop flies,” Tristan Hall said. “I was seeing the baseball really well today. That’s definitely my best game this season.”
Great Bend swept Nickerson 6-2 and 12-2 in the battle of baseball Panthers Friday night. Great Bend improves to 3-1 while Nickerson drops to 0-2.
Great Bend won a hard-fought opener 6-2 behind a six-inning, three-hit performance by pitcher Dillon Reiser, who struck out five batters behind an effective fastball.
“We got two good pitching performances from Dillon Reiser and Anson Hall — that’s where it all starts,” said Great Bend coach Randy Beck.
After struggling to put a big inning together in the opener, a nine-run third inning was exactly what coach Beck wanted.
“We competed well at the plate,” coach Beck said. “Tristan Hall was very good at the plate. He was one of several hitters who stepped up today. We didn’t miss many pitches that second game.”
Nickerson coach Sheldon Stewart was coaching his first varsity games after taking over for longtime Nickerson coach Rich Krol. Krol retired this spring after four state baseball championships in 30 seasons with the Panthers.
“I didn’t think much about it, but it’s a new era,” Stewart said. “We just hope to continue to build on what coach Krol did.”
Overall, Stewart liked how Nickerson competed against a Class 5A team.
“We kept battling in that second game. I was pretty pleased because our defense did what we wanted,” Stewart said. “Great Bend did a good job hitting the baseball. They were solid hits. I told our pitchers the thing they need to focus on next time is work into a rhythm.”
Great Bend also beat the Panthers 15-5 last year when Nickerson renamed its baseball field “Rich Krol Field,” at Nickerson.
In the opener, third baseman Anson Hall made the game’s best defensive play on a hard grounder hit by Jake Engelland. Reiser picked off a runner and Nickerson’s Chance Jordan was retired on an alert rundown after a seventh-inning single.
“Dillon threw a lot of strikes and did a great job in his first game,” coach Beck said. “Dillon was in the strike zone early and often. He got himself into good pitching counts. He got a lot of routine groundballs. That’s what we ask of our pitchers.”
Brady Michel delivered an insurance two-run double for a 6-2 lead that scored Matt Zecha and Bryce Beck with two out in the sixth inning. Michel delivered three RBIs to spark an 11-hit attack off losing pitcher Braden Stewart. Beck reached base four times and eight of nine batters helped the offense.
“We played a solid game. We hit the ball well,” coach Beck said. “We just need to string a few more things together. We’ve been pretty good two-strike hitters. That’s one of our goals.”
Great Bend roared to a 3-0 lead behind a four-hit first inning. Bryce Beck singled and Shade Wondra doubled. Beck scored on Michel’s groundout. Reiser’s single drove home Wondra. Jared Maneth’s double scored pinch runner Bryce Lytle.
Nickerson sliced the lead to 3-1 when Jacob Mader doubled and scored on Jake Engelland’s second-inning groundout.
Reiser delivered the game’s biggest defensive play when he picked off Nate Gardner at third base in the third inning with the tying runners on base after a hit batter and Braden Stewart’s double. The pickoff move was signaled from the bench. Reiser struck out the next batter to work out of trouble.
“That was a really big play for us. We got the momentum back in our favor,” Beck said. “We work on as many scenarios as we can.”
Pinch runner Lytle scored the Panthers’ fourth run on a third-inning balk after back-to-back singles by Reiser and Tristan Hall and a sacrifice bunt by Maneth.
Mader singled, stole second and scored on Jake Engelland’s single in the fourth inning. Left fielder Michel made a good running catch on Bryon Young’s fly ball.
Reiser retired the side in order in the fifth and sixth frames and reliever Bryce Beck worked the final inning.
Mader led Nickerson with a pair of hits.
Great Bend broke the second game open with a nine-run third inning with nine hits off starter Jacob Mader and reliever Casey Goble. Michel drilled a three-run double to key a nine-run third inning. Tristan Hall, Anson Hall, Logan Zecha, Bryce Beck, Reiser and Maneth also delivered RBIs in the nine-run inning.
Third baseman Wondra made the game’s best defensive play by robbing Sam Berridge of a base hit.
Down 12-0, Nickerson’s reserves made things interesting when pinch hitters Kaleb McLean and Devlin Frazier had back-to-back hits off reliever Brayden Smith in the fifth inning. Third baseman Tyler Nuss preserved the shutout with a rundown on McLean.
But Bryon Young drew a bases-loaded walk and Stewart scored on a wild pitch for a 12-2 score. Smith struck out Mader, one of Nickerson’s best hitters, to end the game on the 10-run rule.
“We gave a few young guys a look and they found a way to get on base,” Stewart said. “Our guys were still competing and still into the ballgame. If we do that all season, I’ll be pleased.”
HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
At Great Bend
Great Bend Sports Complex
Great Bend 6, Nickerson 2
123 456 7 R H E
NHS 010 100 0 — 2 4 0
GB 301 002 x — 6 11 1
Braden Stewart & Sam Berridge. Dillon Reiser, Bryce Beck (7) & Jared Maneth. W—Reiser, 1-0. L—Stewart, 0-1. 2B—NHS (Jacob Mader, Stewart); GB (Maneth, Shade Wondra, Brady Michel).
Great Bend 12, Nickerson 2
123 45 R H E
NHS 000 02 — 2 4 1
GB 219 0x — 12 13 1
Mader, Casey Goble (3) & Berridge. Anson Hall, Brayden Smith (5) & Maneth. W—A. Hall, 1-0. L—Mader, 0-1. 2B--NHS (Goble); GB (Tristan Hall 2, A. Hall, Logan Zecha, Michel).