The problem right now for the Great Bend High School Panthers is a lack of stringing together two complete games in a day.
The Panthers, who started out the spring 4-0, have lost three of their last four and take a 5-3 record into back-to-back doubleheaders today and Friday at the City of Great Bend Sports Complex.
Great Bend hosts Liberal today in Western Athletic Conference play, and then entertains Nickerson the next in non-conference action. Opening games start at 4 both days.
“We need to have complete focus and finish games,” Great Bend head coach Randy Beck said. “We competed very well against Hays and we kind of let our guard down after we got a six-run lead (in the second game of the Panthers’ WAC opener on the road).”
A week ago today, Hays beat visiting Great Bend 11-10 on Riley Kaus’ two-out, walk-off solo home run in the eighth during the first game. In the nightcap, behind pitching ace Mitch Kottas, the Panthers built an 8-1 lead after five innings, but Hays rallied with four runs in each of the final two innings, capped by Austin Unrein’s walk-off, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh for a 9-8 win.
GBHS rebounded nicely in non-conference play at home last Saturday, beating Junction City 13-8 in the first game of a doubleheader.
But inconsistency marred the Panthers in the second game as they were shut out 7-0.
“We’re trying to get our on-base percentage up,” said Beck, whose Panthers have a team batting average of .354, but have stranded a number of baserunners this season. “We need to get more runners on base, and some pitchers throw differently with runners on.
“We have good at-bats one game and then struggle the next game.”
Beck said he and his coaching staff have tried some methods in practice this week, seeking better on-field production.
“We put them in some pressure situations to get it done,” he said. “We had around 61 percent efficiency at the plate in the first game (against Junction City), which is pretty good.
“The second game was well below that.”
Great Bend is just getting into the meat of its schedule.
“It’s going to be bang, bang, bang,” Beck said.
After its pair of home twinbills, GBHS hits the road for a conference doubleheader at Dodge City on Tuesday and a non-conference doubleheader at Thomas More Prep-Marian (Hays).
After entertaining Garden City in a WAC doubleheader on Tuesday, May 8, GBHS will close the regular season with a non-conference road date at Larned on Thursday, May 10.
BATTING AVERAGE, HITS
Matt Marshall .577 (15 for 26)
Jace Bowman .483 (14 for 29)
Dakota Conaway .440 (11 for 25)
Connor Sell .393 (11 for 28)
Sell 4, Bowman 3, Marshall 2, Mitch Kottas 2
HOME RUNS (3)
Bowman 2, Eric Ruiz 1
RUNS BATTED IN
Bowman 11, Ruiz 7, Sell 7, Marshall 7
Name W-L IP SO ERA
Kottas 1-0 18 7 1.94
Bryce Beck 2-0 15 11 5.60
Braden Jones 1-1 14 2/3 2 4.77