Box score gm 1 (PDF) | Box score gm 2 (PDF)
LARNED— Landon Erway went the distance with a two-run, seven-hit yield as Larned downed visiting Great Bend, 4-2, in the first of Thursday’s doubleheader. With a chip on their shoulders, the Panthers recovered with 12 runs off a 12 hit outing in game two and ended the regular season with a 12-3 victory over the Indians.
The Panthers end the regular season with a 9-9 split while CKL champion Larned completes their regular campaign at 16-3. The Indians will face Hoisington in the first round of regional at Hoisington, Tuesday. Final seedings for the 5A regional will be announced Saturday.
Thursday’s games were originally scheduled for the Great Bend Sports Complex but wet field conditions from rain showers Wednesday night forced the twin bill to Larned’s Moffett Field.
“I think both teams were in a difficult position as far as arms go,” said Larned coach Chad Erway. “With both teams short on pitchers and regionals just around the corner coach Beck and I were both trying to get work in for our players and make games as productive as possible.”
In the 4-2 loss to the Indians, Great Bend’s Brady Michel, Matt Zecha and Brayden Smith each hit two for three. Larned’s Isaiah Perez and Johnathan Herter finished at three for four and two for four respectively to lead Indian bats.
The game remained at a scoreless standstill over the first four innings before Perez singled Mason Schartz and Erway across to give Larned a 2-0 lead.
Great Bend responded with a one-run bottom of the fifth as sophomore Brayden Smith’s double scored senior Matt Zecha. Jaxx Hillman then reached base as the ensuing batter on a hit-by-pitch before Anson Hall and Bryce Lytle went in order on an infield fly rule and a strikeout with the Indians up, 2-1.
Larned stretched their lead by two in the next frame as Trey Kraisinger led off the inning with a single which set up Colton Gladow’s RBI double to left field. The Panthers squeaked another score across in the bottom of the sixth as Zecha doubled and scored Michel and narrowed the Panther deficit to a run trailing 3-2.
Matt Stetler scored in the Indians final at-bat off a single by Jonathan Herter to put Larned up 4-2. The Panthers threatend in the bottom half but could not bring the tying and go ahead runs across as Jaxx Hillman and Peyton Mauler were left stranded at third and second giving the Indians the 4-2 win.
Michel suffered the loss as the starter after six innings giving up all four runs including eight hits. Michel allowed a walk and struck out two.
“I thought Landon pitched a good game the first game by hitting his spots and keeping their hitters out in front,” said Erway. “He’s not a power pitcher but relies on pitching to contact and letting his fielders get ground ball and fly ball outs. We made some mental and physical mistakes that let them in the door the first game but fortunately for us we were able to get the win.
“Brady came out and pitched a solid game for us,” said Panther coach Randy Beck. “We struggled at the plate in the early innings but came around later in the game and put ourselves in a position to tie and possibly win it in the late innings.”
Hillman was the winner in game two as the starter following four and a third innings worked. Brett Bayse picked up the save. Hillman gave up three runs but allowed only two hits in the 12-3 victory. He walked five and struck out one. Bayse yielded a pair of hits after an inning and two-thirds for the save.
Mauler batted a spotless three for three for the Panthers while Zecha hit three for four. Hillman finished in the bottom of the order at two for three. Zecha and Mauler posted a pair of doubles in the win while Michel added a triple.
“Second game was tough,” said Erway. “We started Herter who hasn’t thrown all year followed by a freshman that we pulled up from JV in Alex Barger. I was proud of Alex. He threw strikes and did exactly what we asked of him. Great Bend did a nice job of just staying back and getting good swings against our young lefty.”
Great Bend pounced with six unanswered runs over the second and third to take a 6-0 lead. Jared Maneth, who posted a walk off single in a win against Dodge City earlier in the week, scored the first run for the Panthers off a Hillman double. Mauler and Hillman then came across giving Great Bend a 3-0 lead. Following a scoreless Indian third, the Panthers reeled in another three-run inning in the bottom half as Mauler’s first of two doubles scored Jack Westhoff, Zecha and Maneth.
The Indians notched the first of their three runs in the ensuing fourth as Erway stole home following a leadoff single and two stolen bags. Great Bend then saddled the third of their three, three-run innings in the Panther half of the fourth as Maneth connected for a double scoring Zecha. Mauler then singled Maneth across before scoring himself off a one-bagger by Hillman giving Great Bend a commanding 9-1 lead heading to the fifth.
Kraisinger would then score the second run for the Indians in the fifth off a single through the left side by Gage Skelton. That would set up Larned’s final run of the day as Jeremey Kramer crossed on an RBI ground out by Erway. In the following half of the fifth, Mauler doubled again scoring Zecha and boosted Great Bend’s lead by seven, up 10-3.
A one-out triple by Michel in the bottom of the sixth set the stage for a sacrifice ground out by Westhoff. Zecha would end the spree for the Panthers on a double which scored Wondra leading to the 12-3 win.
Herter was tagged with the loss for the Indians pitching the first two innings. Herter gave up four runs off of two hits, walked six and retired one opposing batter.
“Hitting can be contagious and we did a good job of stringing hits together in game two,” Beck said. “Overall we focused better for two complete games and that is important going into post-season next week.”