By JIM MISUNAS
NICKERSON — Hoisington High coach Tim Schremmer waited patiently for his hitters to adjust to crafty Nickerson lefthander Austin Engelland. Engelland kept the Cardinals off stride with a diet of off-speed pitches.
The Cardinals adjusted and moved forward in the batter’s box to better time Engelland’s off-speed pitches.
Braeden Crites delivered the game-winning seventh-inning hit in Hoisington’s 4-2 victory to salvage a split of Tuesday’s baseball twin bill. Crites brought home Kody Lang and Hunter Ingham with a hard-hit grounder that shortstop Braden Stewart was unable to glove, then booted.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with a Kody Lang single, an error and an intentional walk to Hunter Hanzlick with two out.
“That was a big hit by Crites, hitting it hard up the middle. We had a hard time adjusting because he was throwing 55-60 mph and throwing strikes,” said Hoisington coach Schremmer. “It was a good win. We needed that.”
Centerfielder Ingham preserved the 4-2 victory with a game-ending catch after colliding with rightfielder Kaleb Blazek. Nickerson won the opener 7-4 played in rainy and drizzly weather conditions.
Hoisington (6-10 CKL) and Nickerson (9-7, 8-6 CKL) will both play at home in Class 4A-Division 2 baseball regionals May 19.
Nickerson loaded the bases in the seventh with three walks. But Ingham saved a victory by pitcher Jacob Warnken on a looping fly ball by Josh Salazar.
“I’m glad they both were going after it, but I’d like our centerfielder (Ingham) to call for the catch,” Schremmer said. “Jacob Warnken threw phenomenal and kept us in the game. He was consistent around the plate.”
Nickerson led 2-0 when Ben Smalling singled home Nate Gardner and Stewart’s sacrifice fly scored Casey Goble in the third inning.
Warnken’s RBI single brought home Hanzlick in the fourth inning. Hanzlick’s fifth-inning sacrifice fly drove in Kyle Lang after successful back-to-back bunts by Lang and Ingham.
“We executed our bunts really well today,” Schremmer said.
Nickerson second baseman Kaleb McLean kept the game tied with a pair of diving catches.
NICKERSON 7, HOISINGTON 4 – Two three-run innings keyed the Panthers’ opening victory off Cardinal ace Brad Reif in rainy weather.
“It was tough playing conditions,” said Nickerson coach Sheldon Stewart said. “We had to fight through some adversity and played through it. I’m happy with our effort today. We have to keep plugging away.”
Jacob Mader singled home Salazar. Nate Gardner forced in a run with a hit-by-pitch. Goble’s sacrifice fly scored Austin Engelland for a 3-0 lead.
Two walks led to a three-run third inning. Salazar singled in a run and McLean and Engelland drove in runs on groundouts for a 6-0 lead. Stewart’s single drove in Smalling for Nickerson’s seventh run.
Blazek’s double scored Warnken in the fourth inning. Justin Umphrey singled in a run and Warnken’s two-run single made it 7-4 in the fifth inning.
Second baseman McLean made the key defensive play by starting a sixth-inning double play. Winning pitcher Braden Stewart worked two solid innings for the complete-game victory.
Hoisington plays Russell at home Monday.
NICKERSON 7, HOISINGTON 4
Hoisington 000 130 0 — 4 5 1
Nickerson 033 100 x — 7 5 3
Reif, Hanzlick (3) and Warnken. Stewart and Schrag. W—Stewart. L—Reif. 2B—H, Reif, Umphrey, Blazek.
HOISINGTON 4, NICKERSON 2
Hoisington 000 110 2 — 4 6 3
Nickerson 002 000 x — 2 4 2
Warnken and Hanzlick. Engelland and Schrag. W—Warnken. L—Engelland. 2B—H, Warnken; N, Goble.
Larned 12-1 12-1
Halstead 10-3 10-3
Pratt 11-5 11-7
Lyons 7-4 7-6
Nickerson 8-6 9-7
Kingman 9-7 10-8
Hoisington 6-10 6-10
Smoky Valley 3-9 3-11
Haven 2-10 2-12
Hillsboro 1-14 2-15
Lyons 3, Hillsboro 1
Lyons 5, Hillsboro 5, suspended
Nickerson 7-2, Hoisington 4-4
Larned 5, Lyons 4