HAYS – Great Bend pitchers Colin Hall and Townshend Kurth believed. So did Panther baseball coach Randy Beck.
The Great Bend baseball Panthers shocked the world for the second consecutive year by upsetting the Hays High Indians 6-2 Tuesday to eliminate the Western Athletic Conference champion for the second consecutive year.
Great Bend's postgame celebration meant the Panthers (10-10) are headed to 5A state baseball at Wichita State.
The righthanded Kurth (4-0) was absolutely brilliant against a strong Hays High hitting lineup.
"This ranks up there. That's a really good team with a lot of good hitters," Kurth said. "I kept throwing strikes, throwing fastball, mixing in curveball and changeup. It's really big to get ahead of those guys because they are a great fastball hitting team."
Kurth said he kept his confidence.
"I knew I could do this. I've done it a few times this season," he said.
Eddie Bujanda started the stunner with a two-run single to score Alex Schremmer and Calan Haberman for a 2-0 lead. Hays High's Riggs delivered a two-run single to score Cody Petersen and Palmer Hutchison for a 2-2 tie after four innings. Shortstop Alex Schremmer, a wizard on turf, turned a double play to end the fourth inning.
Riggs settled in and shut out the Panthers until the sixth inning. Kurth's single scored Koy Brack, who had reached on an error. The Panthers delivered three seventh-inning insurance runs when red-hot Chance Perry hit a RBI single. Brack forced home a run on a bases-loaded walk. Eddie Bujanda's sacrifice fly scored Schremmer for a 6-2 lead.
"This is definitely No. 1 because it's Hays," Hall said. "It's very exciting to beat a great team like Hays."
The Panthers struggled to win games all spring. But they worked postseason magic for the second consecutive season.
"That was a lot of fun. It starts on the mound because Colin Hall and Townshend Kurth threw gems," Beck said. "It's similar to last year. We made plays and we kept them off balance. Townshend kept them off balance and never let them get good hits off the bat. We played terrific defense today."
This wasn't just an ordinary victory.
It was historic because it sent Hays High Hall of Fame Coach Frank Leo into retirement with perhaps the toughest loss in his 39-year career. Rival Hays High (20-2) lost twice to Great Bend. The Panthers were Kryptonite for Indian ace pitcher Trey Riggs (6-2), unbeaten against every team not named Great Bend.
Great Bend 200 001 2 – 6 7 0
Hays High 000 200 0 – 2 4 1
Kurth and Jesus Bujanda. Riggs, Petersen (7) and Lummus. W—Kurth, 4-0.. L—Riggs, 6-2. 2B–GB–Eddie Bujanda; H–Petersen.
GREAT BEND 7, WICHITA NORTHWEST 3 (G1) – Pitcher Colin Hall threw a brilliant 85-pitch outing and dominated after yielding two first-inning runs.
"I threw fastball, curveball and changeup," Hall said. "My changeup was really on today. That really helped me. That's what I hoped we'd do. I had confidence in my defense."
Chance Perry delivered a pair of singles to drive home three runs.
The Grizzlies jumped on Hall with back-to-back doubles by Tyler Gates and Tyler Hicks. Hicks beat a throw home by first baseman Eddie Bujanda for the second run. Magical second baseman Riley Smith rescued the Panthers by turning a inning-ending double play.
The Panthers roughed up starter Brendon Green for four second-inning runs with two out. Riley Smith singled home Townshend Kurth. Perry singled home courtesy runner Jacob Hanrahan and Smith. Perry scored on an error.
Hall took charge by shutting out the Grizzlies over the next four innings.
Great Bend’s Calan Haberman scored on a fifth-inning balk for a 5-2 lead as Alex Schremmer and Eddie Bujanda were thrown out on the bases.
Smith drove home Hanrahan and Perry’s single scored Joey Soupiset for a 7-2 lead after 51/2 innings.
Northwest’s Ryan Phillis singled home Tyler Hicks in the sixth inning. Catcher Jesus Bujanda threw out baserunner Quinn O’Reilly on a steal attempt in the seventh inning.
Great Bend 040 012 0 – 7 10 0
Wichita NW 200 001 0 – 3 5 1
Hall and Jesus Bujanda. Green, Hicks (5), Thompson (6) and Phillis. W—Hall, 4-2. L—Green 4-2. 2B—GB—Brack; NW—Gates, Hicks.