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Panthers capture WAC title with sweep of Dodge City

DODGE CITY — Great Bend captured the Western Athletic Conference baseball title with a 1-0 shutout over Dodge City, featuring clutch defense and a game-winning home run.
Leadoff hitter Jaxx Hillman delivered the game-winner with a home run down the right field line. Pitcher Bryce Lytle spun a four-hit shutout, keyed by several crucial defensive plays. Great Bend (9-3, 7-1 WAC) clinches the WAC baseball crown with sweeping the Red Demons 8-6 in the opener.
The Panthers’ defense saved the championship. Lytle picked off Kaden Riekenberg in the third inning. Gideon Wells was gunned down at home in the fourth inning. Dayton McGroarty reached base, but was thrown out by catcher Jared Maneth in the fifth inning. That proved critical when the Red Demons left the bases loaded as third baseman Anson Hall recorded a forceout.
Shortstop Connor Ireland made the game’s final clutch play with a forceout to end a sixth-inning threat.

Great Bend 001 000 0 — 1 4 3
Dodge City 000 000 0 — 0 4 2
Lytle and Maneth. McGroarty and Wells. W—Lytle. L—McGroarty. HR—GB, Hillman.

Great Bend pitcher Brett Basye needed an assist. Reliever Anson Hall earned a save by retiring Ryan Armstrong one a fly ball to preserve an 8-6 victory over Dodge City.
Basye performed his usual magic, getting ahead of hitters and inducing them to hit the baseball into play. Basye’s best pitch came with the bases loaded when Bryce Unruh grounded into a fifth-inning double-play handled by shortstop Bryce Lytle and second baseman Jaxx Hillman. It was the Panthers’ 10th double-play of the season.
Basye’s second-best play came when he picked off baserunner Luke Royle with the tying baserunner in scoring position. The Red Demons’ Royle singled home Dayton McGroarty and Ryan Armstrong with two out in the sixth inning.
The Panthers scored three valuable insurance runs in the seventh inning. Jared Maneth’s single scored Hillman and Anson Hall after a double and a bunt that was mishandled. Courtesy runner Konnor Ireland scored on a wild pitch for an 8-4 lead.
Great Bend’s Brady Michel delivered the key hit with a two-run single that broke a 2-2 tie. Logan Perry doubled and Jacob Murray reached on a bunt single to start the fifth-inning rally. Anson Hall was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Hall scored the Panthers’ fifth run on a wild pitch for a 5-2 lead.
The Red Demons led 1-0 when Eric Reed’s sacrifice fly scored Luke Royle after a third-inning triple.
The Panthers scored two fourth-inning runs. Hall walked and Brayden Smith doubled him home for a 1-1 tie. Bryce Lytle’s single drove home Smith.

Great Bend 000 230 3 – 8 10 4
Dodge City 001 102 2 – 6 9 3
Basye, Hall (7) and Maneth. Unruh, Reed (7) and Wells. W—Basye. L—Unruh. Sv—Hall (2). 2B—GB, Smith, Perry, Hillman; DC, Reed, McGroarty. 3B—DC, Royal.