Mitch Kottas’ web gem in left field was a diamond in the rough Friday night during Great Bend High School’s official home-opening baseball doubleheader at the new City of Great Bend Sports Complex.
Kottas made a leaping catch at the fence to rob Scott City’s Devyn Eggelston of a two-run home run in the second inning of game two, helping fuel the Panthers to a 4-3 win and a sweep in non-conference action. Kottas drifted back on the play at the warning track, leaped straight up at the wall and pulled the ball back as it sailed over.
“He did a good job, realizing he’s on the warning track and finding the fence,” Great Bend head coach Randy Beck said of Kottas. “So he knew where he was at, had good concentration on the ball and brought it in.”
Great Bend (4-0) run-ruled the Beavers (4-4) in six innings, 14-4, in the opener.
In the nightcap, where four Panthers had at least two hits, Jace Bowman drove in three runs, including the eventual game-winner in the bottom of the fourth.
Scott City slugger Drew Kite led off the top of the fourth by crushing a homer over the left-field fence to pull the Beavers within 3-2.
Eric Ruiz answered by singling up the middle to lead off the bottom of the fourth, and Bowman delivered his two-out single to left shortly thereafter for a 4-2 cushion. It loomed large after Scott City trimmed the margin to 4-3 in the fifth.
“Eric had some quality at-bats all day long,” Randy Beck said. “It was no different, even in late innings. We tried to find ways to get on base and he found ways to get on.
“That just helps us move around the bases.”
Ruiz had a pair of line-drive singles in two at-bats. Speedster Johnny Allende scored two runs as his courtesy runner.
Bowman, who also was 2 for 2 in the nightcap, which included a sacrifice and a base on balls, lined his game-winning single down the left-field line to drive in Ruiz from third and Connor Sell, who drew a walk, from second.
“I wasn’t hitting the ball well in the first game (1 for 5, including an RBI single),” Bowman said. “I just tried to focus a little more, shortened my swing up a little bit and took a little different approach.
“I was more aggressive and I told myself to limit the 0-1 and 0-2 counts.”
Kottas had some props for Sell in center field after his momentum-seizing catch.
“Connor and I have a good relationship out there,” Kottas said. “He was telling me where the fence was and told me that I had room. It’s a timing thing.
“I went up and robbed it.”
Braden Jones (1-0) pitched into the fifth, allowing just two hits until the fourth when Kite unloaded his blast. The Beavers were bidding for a three-run lead when Jones retired Austin Habiger on a fly ball to center to end the fourth.
Sell had two hits — a single and a double in four at-bats and scored two runs — and Dakota Conaway was 3-for-3, all singles.
Matt Marshall rolled his right ankle after beating out an infield ground ball at first base early in the game and did not return. Randy Beck said Marshall should be back in action in a few days.
Great Bend 14,
Scott City 4 (6)
Trailing 4-2 after 3½ innings, the Panthers surged ahead with six runs in the bottom of the fourth, added one run in the fifth and tacked on five more in the sixth.
Sophomore right-hander Bryce Beck went the distance on the mound, scattering eight hits and struck out six, one in every inning but the sixth.
“The thing that made Bryce effective was that he was getting ahead in the count,” Randy Beck said. “I thought our defense was really good behind him.”
Marshall was 3-for-4, driving the ball with a pair of doubles and a single.
Kottas was 3 for 4 at the plate, lining singles in his first three at-bats, including an RBI in the fourth.
Ruiz had two singles in three at-bats. He had an RBI single and was also hit by a pitch twice, and his courtesy runner, Mitch Johnson, scored a pair of runs.
Bryce Hofmeister had a triple into the gap and totaled three runs scored for Great Bend.
The Panthers opened their season on Thursday, April 5, sweeping Hoisington in a pair of games in extra innings at the new ballpark, even though they were visitors on the scoreboard. Wet grounds moved the scheduled road doubleheader from Hoisington to Great Bend.
“It was a little different last week, but that homefield advantage does play a part in what you do, especially offensively,” Randy Beck said.
The Panthers travel to Hays on Thursday to open Western Athletic Conference play, starting at 4 p.m.
HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
At Great Bend
City of Great Bend
Great Bend 14, Scott City 4 (6)
123 456 R H E
SCHS 101 200 — 4 8 2
GBHS 002 615 — 14 10 1
Drew Kite, Devyn Eggelston & Matt Zilla; Bryce Beck & Eric Ruiz. W — Beck (2-0). L — Kite. 2B — Great Bend: Matt Marshall 2, Mitch Kottas. 3B — Bryce Hofmeister.
Great Bend 4, Scott City 3
123 456 7 R H E
SCHS 101 010 0 — 3 4 2
GBHS 120 100 x — 4 11 1
Brett O’Neil & Drew Kite; Braden Jones, Mitch Kottas (5) & Eric Ruiz. W — Jones (1-0). L — O’Neil. 2B — Great Bend: Connor Sell; Scott City: Trey O’Neil. HR — Kite.