After getting hammered 16-0 in five innings by Hays High School in the opener of a Western Athletic Conference doubleheader on Thursday afternoon, Great Bend didn’t get down.
Instead, the Panthers got busy, capped by scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh for a mesmerizing come-from-behind 8-7 victory and a decisive split against their arch-rival at the Great Bend Sports Complex.
Chad Touslee delivered a tiebreaking single to left field, driving in Bryce Beck with the winning run, as the Panthers improved to 7-1 overall and 3-1 in conference play. Hays falls to 9-3, 4-2.
“I was just trying to keep calm,” said Touslee, a senior left-handed-hitting right fielder, of his game-winning hit on a 2-2 pitch. “I knew no matter whatever happened, we were still going to be in it.
“I saw a pitch coming on the outside of the plate, and I hit oppo (to the opposite field) really good. It’s very exciting. It fired us up a little more (after losing the first game).”
It’s the first time Great Bend has beaten Hays since the 2009 season, where the Panthers beat Hays in the semifinals and Hutchinson in the final of a Class 5A regional to advance to a state tournament.
“It was a great win,” GBHS head coach Randy Beck said. “When you beat a good team like that, sometimes you need a few breaks and, you know, we had some things go our way, mostly because of hustle.
“The never-say-die attitude that we had in Game 2, we wanted to compete hard and wanted to come back and win that game. The later innings showed that.”
It looked bleak in the early going, as Hays built a 6-0 lead off GBHS right-hander Tristan Hall in the first.
But Hall seemed to get stronger as the game progressed. He allowed only one run the rest of the way in registering a complete-game victory and improving his record to 4-0.
It also helped that the Panthers’ bats start coming alive. After chopping the deficit in half with three runs in the bottom of the first, highlighted by Eric Ruiz’s suicide squeeze down the third-base line, GBHS trimmed the margin to 6-4 in the second on Bryce Beck’s RBI single, driving in Johnny Allende, who led off the inning with a base hit.
GBHS closed to 7-5 in the sixth after Beck, who finished 4-for-5 at the plate, doubled and scored on Dakota Conaway’s RBI single.
All the while, Hall was bearing down on the Indians’ hitters.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Panthers’ Braden Jones singled to center field for his second base hit of the game and advanced to second on a balk.
After Allende’s second single of the game, a sharply hit ball to left, Jones moved to third. An out was recorded before Mitch Johnson hit an RBI groundout to second, scoring Jones and pulling GBHS within 7-6.
Beck then hit a ground ball to second. The first-base umpire ruled that Hays second baseman Chance Pitcock’s throw pulled first baseman Chance Rule off the bag, giving Hays a costly error and the Panthers one more gasp.
“Two out ... that’s the winning run and you have to do whatever you can to get on,” Beck said of his final at-bat. “The umpire called me safe (at first), so that’s what happened.
“It’s always good to get a win in the WAC, no matter who it is. That’s a good team, and we just got together as a team after a pretty bad first game. We got the hits when we needed them.”
Hays head coach Frank Leo said his team simply didn’t close the deal.
“Every coach thinks that they’re going to get the call,” Leo said of the play at first base. “We thought (Rule) was on the base, but the umpire has got to make the call, it was a tough call, but we shouldn’t have put the umpire in that position.
“If we make a solid throw, that doesn’t happen. We can’t blame an umpire. We didn’t make a good throw. We thought we had him out, but we can’t dwell on that.”
After Conaway’s single put Beck in scoring position, Touslee responded with his line-drive single off right-hander Hayden Hutchison (3-1), who took the loss after throwing a one-hit shutout in the opener.
“We didn’t defend it,” Leo said. “We didn’t get ahead of hitters in Game 2, and I thought we didn’t have quality at-bats.
“We just kind of hung on. If you’re going to try to hang on, you’d better throw strikes and play defense and we didn’t do that.”
Hutchison highlighted Hays’ first with a three-run homer over the left-field wall, his second homer in the twinbill.
Conaway finished 3-for-3, including a double, and also drew a walk and was hit by a pitch.
Hays 16, Great Bend 0 (5)
The Indians played yard ball, unloading four home runs in handing the Panthers their first loss of the season.
Zach Legleiter hit a two-run home run and Rule followed with a solo blast, staking Hays a 3-0 lead in the first inning off Beck (3-1).
Hutchison added a bases-empty shot in the fourth, and Lane Downing added a two-run homer during the Indians’ 10-run fifth, where they sent 15 batters to the plate, putting the run-rule into effect. They chased Beck during the outburst.
In all, six of Hays’ 14 hits went for extra bases.
Hutchison (3-0), who retired the first seven batters he faced, finished with a one-hit shutout. In the fourth, Touslee had a two-out infield single for the Panthers’ only hit.
The Panthers return to action today, traveling to Nickerson for a non-conference doubleheader, starting at 4:30. It was originally slated for 4.
HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
Western Athletic Conference
At Great Bend
Great Bend Sports Complex
Hays 16, Great Bend 0 (5)
123 45 R H E
HH 320 1(10) — 16 14 1
GB 000 00 — 0 1 4
Hayden Hutchison, Cole Schumacher (5) & Jake Sedbrook; Bryce Beck, Johnny Allende (5), Mitch Johnson (5) & Eric Ruiz; W — Hutchison (3-0). L — Beck (3-1). 2B — Hays (Cade Parker, Chandler Rule). HR — Hays (Zach Legleiter, Rule, Hutchison, Lane Downing).
Great Bend 8, Hays 7
123 456 7 R H E
HH 600 100 0 — 7 7 1
GB 310 001 3 — 8 12 1
Marcus Altman, Cole Schumacher (5), Chance Pitcock (6), Kyler Niernberger (7), Hayden Hutchinson (7) & Jake Sedbrook; Tristan Hall & Eric Ruiz. W — Hall (4-0). L — Hutchison (3-1). 2B — Hays (Dan Bittel); GBHS (Dakota Conaway, Bryce Beck). HR — Hays (Hutchison).