Shawnee Heights scored against Maize pitcher John Short in the first inning, but also revealed its fatal flaw.
The Thunderbirds recorded three singles in a five-pitch span, an aggressive approach that Short quickly figured out how to use against his opponent.
Short didn’t allow another run and finished a complete game in 90 pitches as Maize won 3-1 in the Class 5A baseball quarterfinals at Eck Stadium.
The only baserunner among the final 12 batters against Short reached on an error. He didn’t often need to work out of trouble, but when he did it was quick and easy.
“My game plan is usually 1-through-9, the first time seeing them, a lot of fastballs,” said Short, a senior left-hander. “I want them to swing early. I can see their swings and get a good idea of what they’re doing, and that’s when I start bringing in the curveball and the slider later in the game.”
Short threw 11 pitches even while allowing a run in the first inning, one more pitch than he threw in the second and one fewer than he needed to escape the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
The fourth inning was Short’s only real escape, but it happened so fast that it’s difficult to remember it as a turning point.
Shawnee Heights (17-6) had runners on second and third with no outs before Chase Reynolds flied out to right field on the first pitch. The next batter, Shaun Gomez, was hit to load the bases, also on the first pitch.
In two more pitches, the threat was over, as Casey Wulfkuhle and Cole Emerson, the first two batters in Shawnee Heights’ lineup, each swung at the first pitch.
Popout to second base, groundout to shortstop. Inning over.
“He was really good commanding the zone,” Maize coach Rocky Helm said of Short. “He did exactly what (pitching coach Nate Robertson) told him to do. He worked the ball in and out, changed speeds. Kind of masterful.”
Maize (20-3) was the opposite of Shawnee Heights, often getting into deeper counts and showing patience in clutch opportunities. The Eagles scored all of their runs with two outs, and each RBI came on the sixth pitch of an at-bat.
Shawnee Heights used three pitchers and its starter, Peyton Carson, made 91 pitches in 3 2/3 innings.
“That was our game plan,” said Short, who walked and singled. “We knew he threw a lot of pitches and we were just thinking, work the count, work the count and see how soon we can get him out of the game.”
Maizes faces Salina South (17-6) in Friday’s semifinals.
Carroll 5, BV Southwest 4 — Brock Hipp was the least-active person in the final moments of Carroll’s eight-inning win until he became the most important.
Hipp was standing on third base after Carroll scored the tying run. A throw from shortstop Chris Eposito, trying to make the final out on a chopper hit by Justin Tangney, pulled first baseman Lukas Rich off the base to score R.J. Lara, and Hipp watched.
Eventually he saw Rich turn to argue the call, and he went from stationary to full speed, accelerating down the line before Rich recognized the situation.
Too late. Hipp, a pinch-hitter who reached on an error in the eighth, slid in before the tag.
“I just saw it and I took it,” Hipp said. “I saw the first baseman go over and start to argue with the umpire and I was like, ‘Well, he didn’t call time,’ so I ran home.”
Carroll (22-1) advances to Friday’s semifinals.
BV Southwest coach Rick Sabath argued the call, and the umpires briefly conferred before confirming the run.
Carroll coach Charlie Ebright didn’t guide Hipp home because he had fallen down near the coach’s box.
“When the throw was going to first, I was willing the guy off the bag and I fell,” Ebright said. “Then chaos ensues. I think the dugout were all telling him to go. I was watching it all transpire and we just won the game. It’s like shocking. That’s one for the memories.”
After BV Southwest (12-11) scored in the top of the eighth to break a 3-3 tie, a lot had to go Carroll’s way to pull off the rally.
Lara led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice. After Skyler Stuckey struck out, Hipp reached when Esposito couldn’t make the play on a ball hit in the hole to his right.
Leadoff hitter Blake Freeman walked on a close full-count pitch to load the bases. Then Tangney hit a high chopper over the mound that Espositio fielded cleanly. He rushed the throw and as Rich stretched, his foot came barely off the bag.
“There kind of was a delay,” Ebright said. “It took a while to develop. I don’t know if the first baseman (called time) or not. I know they were looking at the umpire. The place was just erupting. They didn’t get time and the play wasn’t over.”
Salina South 8, Wichita Heights 2 — Right-hander Cade Peters shut down Heights efficiently, recording eight groundball outs through the first four innings while enticing the Falcons (19-4) to swing early in the count.
Peters got through the first inning on six pitches even though he surrendered a leadoff double to Blake Carroll. The innings immediately following were similarly easy – Peters was below 50 pitches as he entered the sixth inning.
Heights starter Aaron Bechtel was unable to match his counterpart. Salina South scored three in the third to take a 4-0 lead and added two in the fifth and seventh innings against Heights’ bullpen.
Heights threatened in the later innings but stranded two in the fifth and ended the sixth on a double play after starting the inning with a walk and a single. The Falcons scored two in the fifth, but Peters finished them off on 75 pitches.
1 5 3
3 4 2
W: Short. L: Carson.
4 8 2
5 7 3
W: Bockover. L: McClure.
8 11 0
2 6 1
W: Peters. L: Bechtel.