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Great Bend pitcher Nick Ney shut Topeka West down on a four-hitter in a Class 5A regional semifinal baseball game on Tuesday at Al Burns Memorial Stadium. - photo by Mack McClure Great Bend Tribune

One win from advancing to the Class 5A state baseball tournament, the Great Bend High School Panthers had their season end with a thud.
Salina Central left-hander Vince Froome fired a four-hit shutout, leading the Mustangs to a 9-0 victory and a regional crown on Thursday night at Al Burns Memorial Field.
“It seemed like (Salina Central) was finding a lot of holes and when we hit the ball, it seemed like it was right at them,” Great Bend head coach Randy Beck said. “We just couldn’t string anything together, like we have done all year long.
“We drove some balls to the warning track and hit line drives right at them.”
Great Bend closes its season at 17-5 overall. Salina Central (14-8), which placed third at the state tourney last season in Topeka, advances to the state tournament on May 27-28 at Eck Stadium on the Wichita State University campus.
Great Bend throttled Topeka West 11-1 in five innings in Thursday’s opener, followed by Salina Central whipping McPherson 17-10 in the second semifinal, setting the stage for the regional title game.
What made it numbing for the Panthers was that all nine of Salina Central’s runs were scored after two out.
Great Bend had inning-ending double plays in the first two innings before the Mustangs touched pitcher Darien Blackwill for four runs in the third. But it came after the Panthers recorded their third double play of the game.
Mason Brightbill led off Central’s third with a single and No. 9 hitter Grant Martens followed by laying down a bunt, where Blackwill came off the mound, picked up the ball and threw wildly at first. Brightbill advanced to third on the play and Martens went to second.
Elias Grant followed by hitting a soft fly, where GBHS shortstop Logan Buehler snared the ball and threw to third baseman Matt Marshall to double up Brightbill at third.
But Jackson Rolfs and Froome followed with singles, with Froome’s base hit driving in Martens to make it 1-0. After Taylor Bradley drew a walk to load the bases, Mark Vaughn responded with a bases-clearing three-run double to make it 4-0.
Grant hit an RBI single in the fourth and later scored on a wild pitch to increase the margin to 6-0. The Mustangs scored two more runs in the fifth for an 8-0 lead on Rolfs’ RBI single and a Great Bend error, one of four in the game for the Panthers.
Martens’ RBI single in the seventh closed the scoring.
“We’ve got to make the plays, and we didn’t make all of the plays defensively,” Beck said. “It was one of those games where you feel helpless sometimes.
“It is tough. When you get out there with your team after the end of season, that’s the hardest speech to give all year.”

Great Bend 11,
Topeka West 1 (5)

Buehler had a three-run double, Nick Ney struck out seven and Marshall hit a two-run home run, leading the Panthers to a run-rule victory in Thursday’s regional opener.
Ney, a senior right-hander, pitched a complete game, scattering four hits and striking out at least one batter in every inning.
Great Bend drew first blood in the first, getting an RBI single by Blackwill, driving in Marshall, who drew a walk for a 1-0 lead.
The Panthers built their lead to 5-0 after scoring four runs in the second, capped by Buehler’s bases-clearing double.
A pair of bunt singles helped set to the table for Buehler. Cole Smith led off Great Bend’s second with an opposite-field single to left. After Jeff Pike drew a walk, Jace Bowman laid down a perfectly executed bunt down the third-base line to load the bases.
After the first out was recorded, Connor Sell followed with a bunt single to drive in Smith to make it 2-0. Buehler then doubled into the gap, driving in Pike, Bowman and Sell to stretch the margin to 5-0.
Ney experienced a shaky third, issuing a walk, a single to Ben Ramberg and another base on balls to load the bases. Ney hit clean-up hitter Jacob Gutierrez with a pitch, forcing in Dustin Micheals to make it 5-1.
But Ney struck out Colin Weishaar to escape the jam and get out of the inning.
Great Bend increased its lead to 6-1 in the bottom of the third after Landon Leuenberger singled and later scored on Bowman’s single. Bowman finished 3 for 3.
In the fourth, Marshall hit a double to left-center and later scored on Leuenberger’s two-base hit to make it 7-1.
Bowman led off the fifth with a one-out single and after the second out was recorded, Sell singled down the left-field line, scoring Bowman from second for an 8-1 edge. Sell pulled into second as the relay throw went to West shortstop Jonathon Marian.
After Buehler singled in Sell for his fourth RBI in the game, Marshall put the 10-run rule into effect with a two-run blast over the fence in left-center field.


Class 5A Regional
At Great Bend
Al Burns Memorial Field


Salina Central 9, Great Bend 0
                                123 456 7     R  H  E
Salina Central       004 202 0 — 9 13  1
Great Bend            000 000 x — 0  4  4

     Vince Froome & Mason Brightbill; Darien Blackwill, Mitch Kottas (4) & Landon Leuenberger. W — Froome. L — Blackwill. 2B — Salina Central (Froome, Mark Vaughn).
Great Bend 11, Topeka West 1 (5)
                                123  45     R   H  E
Topeka West          001 00 —  1   4   0
Great Bend            141 14 — 11  13  0

     Ben Ramberg & Jacob Gutierrez; Nick Ney & Landon Leuenberger. W — Ney (5-3). L — Ramberg. 2B — Great Bend (Logan Buehler, Matt Marshall, Landon Leuenberger). HR — Marshall (1).
     Salina Central 17, McPherson 10

Regional at Shawnee-Mill Valley

 St. Thomas Aquinas 9, Shawnee-Mill Valley 4; Bishop Miege 11, KC-Harmon 2; Bishop Meige 9, St. Thomas Aquinas 6.
Regional at Pittsburg
Pittsburg 5, Gardner-Edgerton 4; Blue Valley Stilwell 6, Blue Valley Southwest 4; Blue Valley Stilwell 10, Pittsburg 0.
Regional at Hays
Hays 4, Newton 3; Valley Center 7, Salina South 0; Hays 4, Valley Center 3.
Regional at Great Bend
Great Bend 11, Topeka West 1; Salina Central 17, McPherson 10; Salina Central 9, Great Bend 0.
Regional at Lake Shawnee
Shawnee Heights 15, KC Washington 0; KC-Turner 17, KC-Wyandotte 0; Shawnee Heights 10, KC-Turner 0.

Regional at St. Thomas Aquinas

Gardner-Edgerton 4, KC-Turner 0; St. Thomas Aquinas 11, Gardner Edgerton 0.
Regional at Blue Valley West
Blue Valley Stilwell 13, Blue Valley Southwest 3; Shawnee-Mill Valley 6, Bishop Miege 2; Blue Valley Stilwell 3, Shawnee-Mill Valley 1.
Regional at Hays
McPherson 7, Newton 2; Hays 14, Newton 4 (5).
Regional at Great Bend
Valley Center 11, Liberal 1 (6); Great Bend 16, Wichita West 1 (3); Valley Center 13, Great Bend 5.
Regional at Lake Shawnee
Topeka West 14, Salina South 0