RUSSELL — Hoisington pitcher Jacob Warnken struck out four batters and pitched to contact to work through five perfect innings. But everything went south in the sixth inning when Nickerson rallied for a 5-3 Class 4A-Division 2 regional baseball victory.
The Cardinals (7-12) led 3-0 after 41/2 innings. They stranded nine baserunners.
Nickerson’s Chandler Eaton doubled home Marcus Jackson after a single in the fifth inning. Warnken retired Wyatt Henson and Tanner Schrag to strand a runner at second base.
Nickerson rallied for four sixth-inning runs. Josh Salazar walked and Braden Stewart singled to start a sixth-inning threat. The potential go-ahead home run by Kolbi Schrag went foul by a few feet. Warnken eventually walked Schrag on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases.
Salazar scored on Kaleb McLean’s infield single to the left side. Austin Engelland drilled a two-run single that scored Stewart and Kolbi Schrag for a 4-3 lead. Chandler Eaton’s sacrifice fly scored McLean for a 5-3 lead.
The Cardinals stranded the tying runner at second base in the seventh inning. Braeden Crites walked and Hunter Hanzlick singled. Third baseman Kolbi Schrag retired Jeremy Breit on a solid defensive play, Tanner Schrag struck out Kyle Lang to end the game.
The Cardinals missed scoring golden chances in the second and third innings. Left fielder Josh Salazar saved the Panthers with back-to-back defensive gems to keep the game scoreless. Salazar gunned down Kyle Lang at home on Jacob Warnken’s second-inning single. Salazar ended a bases-loaded situation with a diving catch on Hunter Hanzlick’s line drive in the third inning.
Breit and Kyle Lang walked to start the third inning and Warnken delivered a run-scoring single off starter Braden Stewart, who worked out of further trouble.
Breit drilled a chopper that scored Braeden Crites and Hanzlick for a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning after a walk, single and balk that ended Stewart’s day. Reliever Tanner Schrag yielded Breit’s two-run single, but retired Kyle Lang and Warnken to end the rally.
NICKERSON 5, HOISINGTON 3
Russell 4A regional
Hoisington 000 120 0 — 3 7 1
Nickerson 000 013 x — 5 6 1
Jacob Warnken, Kyle Lang (6) and Jeremy Breit. Braden Stewart, Tanner Schrag (5) and Chandler Eaton. W—Schrag, 4-2. L—Warnken, 3-3. 2B—N, Eaton.