Mitch Kottas went after Liberal High School’s batters with a vengeance Thursday evening at the City of Great Bend Sports Complex.
Kottas, Great Bend’s senior ace right-hander, stymied the Redskins with a one-hitter during an 11-0 blanking in the game two of a Western Athletic Conference doubleheader.
“I felt like I had control over all of my pitches and could hit spots,” said Kottas, who had at least one strikeout in every inning and seven for the game while issuing only one walk. “Just knowing if I could throw strikes, I know our guys can field it.
“Hitting spots, that’s what you have to do.”
Kottas’ shutout came on the heels of a 14-4 Panthers victory in the first game, where sophomore right-hander Bryce Beck improved to 3-0 on the season by going the distance. Both games were called after 4 ½ innings because of the 10-run rule.
GBHS head coach Randy Beck said he wanted the Panthers, who improved to 7-3 overall, 2-2 in the WAC, to put two complete games together in a day. They had lost three of their last four, but the doubleheader sweep was just what the doctor ordered.
“We had some great at-bats,” Randy Beck said. “It was very important that we come out in these two games, especially two five-inning games with us also having a doubleheader (today at home against Nickerson, starting at 4).
“That really saved our pitching, and we still have kids in line to get it done on the mound.”
The Great Bend skipper lauded Kottas’ performance in the nightcap, where he allowed only a Miguel Gomez single to lead off Liberal’s second.
After that, Kottas put it on cruise control.
“He got into a rhythm today and he was aggressively attacking the hitters,” the coach said. “He was in the zone early and often and the result was a one-hitter. He really got the job done. He was locked in and ready to go.”
Credit an element of focus by everyone in the Panthers dugout.
“We put emphasis on focus today and everybody came out and hit the ball,” Kottas said. “We got some run support and our pitchers threw strikes. That’s all you have to do.”
The Panthers, leading 2-0 in the third, stringed together five hits to score five runs to hike the margin to 7-0. Kottas had a two-run double, and Wyatt Bayless had an RBI single during the surge.
Matt Marshall had an RBI double and Dakota Conaway, Kottas and Eric Ruiz hit consecutive RBI singles in the Panthers’ four-run fourth, capped by Bayless’ sacrifice fly to left to drive in the final run of the inning.
“We do drills in practice and we work on finding (the opposing pitchers’) release point, their window,” Marshall said, “ ... finding out if it’s a fastball or curveball.
“Our coaches are all over that, so we’ve been seeing the ball pretty good.”
Great Bend 14, Liberal 4 (4 1/2)
The Panthers were the recipients of numerous bases on balls and wild pitching from Liberal starting pitcher Brent Lenear. They scored seven runs in the first, drawing four walks and also had a hit batsman.
After Braden Jones, Bryce Hofmesiter and Bryce Beck each had RBIs at the bottom of the batting order off bases-full walks, Connor Sell followed with a three-run double, and Marshall then singled home Sell to make it 7-0.
Liberal scored a trio of runs on five hits in the second off Beck, highlighted by Christian Hernandez’s two-run single.
But Beck, a sophomore right-hander, allowed just one run on two hits over the final three innings. He also had plenty of run support.
The Panthers led 9-3 after Braden Jones stroked a two-run single in the second.
“That was a big base hit by Braden that kind of extended the lead,” Randy Beck said.
After the Redskins scored a single run in the third to close to 9-4, Great Bend answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning, including Kottas driving a bases-clearing, three-run double to left.
HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
Western Athletic Conference
At Great Bend
City of Great Bend
Great Bend 14, Liberal 4 (4 ½)
123 45 R H E
Lib 031 00 — 4 8 4
GB 725 0x — 14 9 2
Brent Lenar, Adrian Carrasco (3) & Brandyn Terrazas; Bryce Beck & Eric Ruiz. W — Beck (3-0). L — Lenar. 2B — Great Bend: Connor Sell, Mitch Kottas.
CRUNCHIN’ THE NUMBERS
Panthers — Sell: 1-for-3, 2B, BB, 3 RBIs, run; Jace Bowman: 1-4, run; Matt Marshall: 1-3, BB, RBI, run; Dakota Conaway: 1-2, 2 BB, 3 run; Kottas: 1-4, 2B, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Eric Ruiz: 1-1, 2 BB, HBP; Jonathan Allende 3 runs; Braden Jones: 1-3, BB, run, 3 RBIs; Bryce Hofmeister 1-2, HBP; Bryce Beck 1-1, RBI, run.
Great Bend 11, Liberal 0 (4 ½)
123 45 R H E
Lib 000 00 — 0 1 2
GB 205 4x — 11 12 1
Dustin Loftis & Brandyn Terrazas; Mitch Kottas & Eric Ruiz. W — Kottas (2-0). L — Loftis. 2B — Great Bend: Matt Marshall, Kottas, Chad Touslee.
CRUNCHIN’ THE NUMBERS
Panthers — Connor Sell: 0-for-0, 3 BB, 3 runs; Jace Bowman: 3-3, 2 runs; Matt Marshall 2-3, 2B, RBI, 2 runs; Dakota Conaway 2-3, 2 RBIs, run; Mitch Kottas 2-3, 2 RBIs; Bryce Hofmeister: 2 runs; Eric Ruiz 1-3, RBI; Wyatt Bayless 1-2, SF, 2 RBIs; Chad Touslee 1-3, 2B; Johnny Allende 0-2.