JUNCTION CITY — Nick Ney’s flirtation with a no-hitter lasted deep into Saturday’s opening game of a non-conference doubleheader with Junction City High School.
Ney, Great Bend’s No. 1 pitcher in the rotation, who retired the first 11 batters he faced, ultimately lost his no-hitter, along with a shutout, in the sixth inning.
It was the only run the Blue Jays managed against Ney, a senior right-hander, who settled for a two-hitter in the Panthers’ 8-1 victory. Great Bend (4-0) completed the sweep with a dizzying 22-12 win in five innings in the nightcap.
“I was feeling good the first few innings,” Ney said of his first-game performance, his first outing of the young season. “I knew I was throwing a no-hitter and I just felt good.
“They got a base hit, but I got over it because we were winning, playing hard and having a good time. It would have been nice to have a no-hitter or a perfect game, but maybe next time."
Ney retired the first 11 batters he faced before hitting Tyler LeClear with a pitch with two out in the fourth. He retired the next four Blue Jays he faced before running into trouble after walking Thomas Plummer to lead off the sixth. After Dallas King hit into a force play at second, the no-no was toast after lead-off hitter Nick Heath punched a single to center. LeClears’ RBI single was their only other hit.
All the while, the Panthers were busy chipping away at Junction City’s pitching staff, totaling eight hits.
Great Bend’s Darien Blackwill had a two-run single in the first and an RBI single in the second to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead. The lead grew to 5-0 in the third on Landon Leuenberger’s two-run double, his first of two extra-base hits in the game.
Jace Bowman’s RBI single in the fifth made it 6-0 before Junction City finally scored in the sixth.
GBHS tacked on two runs in the eighth, kick-started by Leuenberger’s double.
Great Bend 22,
Junction City 12 (5)
Granted, Junction City used its No. 1 and 2 starters on Friday in a doubleheader sweep of Topeka West.
Still, one had to like the way the Panthers were swinging their bats, even though the Blue Jays were using their 3s and 4s on the mound.
Great Bend jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first, only to have the Blue Jays answer with seven runs in the bottom of the inning.
The Panthers, who accumulated 19 hits, closed to 7-6 after scoring two runs in the second. They pulled away after scoring seven runs in the third and six in the fourth while putting the 10-run rule into effect after scoring a pair in the fifth.
“We’ve been taking a lot of BP, a lot of live batting,” Panthers designated hitter Cole Smith said. “We’re all seeing the ball really well, hitting it in play, getting runners on and scoring runs.
“When one person starts hitting, a lot of us do.”
Jeff Pike’s two-run double down the left-field line sparked the seven-run third, which was culminated on Cole Smith’s RBI single.
Leuenberger’s double drove in two runs and capped the six-run fourth. He finished 5-for-9 in the doubleheader, including three doubles, and had six RBIs.
Every player in the lineup had at least one hit for the Panthers in the nightcap.
Mitch Kottas, the Panthers’ starting pitcher who was chased during Junction’s seven-run first, finished 3-for-4, including an RBI double and pair of singles.
Smith finished 2-for-4, including driving in a run on a sacrifice fly.
GBHS returns to action on Tuesday, when it travels to Liberal for the Western Athletic Conference opener.
HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
At Junction City
Great Bend 8,
Junction City 1
123 456 7 R H E
Great Bend 212 010 2 8 8 1
Junction City 000 001 0 1 2 2
Nick Ney & Landon Leuenberger; Jeremy Thomas, Dallas King (5) & James Dalton. W — Ney (1-0). L — Thomas. 2B — Great Bend (Leuenberger 2, Sell).
Great Bend 22,
Junction City 12 (5)
123 45 R H E
Great Bend 427 63 22 19 0
Junction City 701 40 12 7 2
Mitch Kottas, Matt Marshall (1), Jace Bowman (4) & Landon Leuenberger; Peter Ruiz, Cody Devin (3), Dallas King (4) & James Denton. W — Marshall (2-0). L — Ruiz. 2B — Great Bend (Leuenberger 2, Sell). HR — Ruiz.