MANHATTAN – Bishop Carroll’s Mark Quaney broke for second base as the pitch tailed away from batter Bryce Fischer, who was instructed to execute a hit-and-run.
If Fischer couldn’t connect, Quaney’s situation on the basepath may have been in peril.
But Fischer, an all-state performer, lunged across the plate and steered Andover pitcher Landon Fry’s offering into left field. A throwing error later, Quaney crossed the plate with Carroll’s third run and Fischer slid safely into third.
Such was the Golden Eagles’ execution Thursday in their 8-0 victory over Andover in the Class 5A baseball quarterfinals at Tointon Family Stadium.
Senior Jordan Miller pitched an efficient four-hitter, and Carroll (20-2), the tournament’s No. 2 seed, advanced to Friday’s semifinals against Blue Valley Southwest.
“That’s what puts a team into an elite category,” Andover catcher Cooper Nichols said of Fischer, who went 2 for 3 with two runs. “It’s just the type of stuff you see from the best of the best. They performed today, and it showed.”
Nichols had two solid singles off Miller, a right-hander who improved to 9-0. But Andover’s aggressive hitting approach yielded just one golden scoring opportunity, which Miller squelched by getting Josh Norlin to hit into a double play.
“They came out swinging the whole game,” Miller said. “I’ve never really been overpowering and strike a lot of guys out. I’ll put it over the middle, and if you want to hit a pop-up to my left fielder, that’s fine.”
For Carroll, a 5A finalist three of the last four years, the tournament’s first day yielded minimal stress. The Eagles manufactured runs in four of the six innings they batted, and were particularly tough on Fry with two outs, when they scored six runs.
Jarrett Johnson drove in three runs, Alex Miller had two RBIs and James Leitch added a sacrifice fly for Carroll, which ended Andover’s season at 15-8.
“A lot of these guys played on the 2013 team, and we were real close,” Carroll coach Charlie Ebright said. “They’re hungry and they’re talented. If we execute our game plan, I feel we’ve got a good shot at playing with anyone in 5A.”
Leadoff hits, one-out walks, a hit batter with two strikes and two outs.
Every inning, Heights put runners on base against Topeka Seaman. And almost every time, the Falcons came up empty.
“That’s hard to swallow right there,” Heights coach Jeff Topping said after the Falcons stranded 15 and exited the state quarterfinals for the second consecutive year as a No. 1 seed. “Sometimes you wish you’d give up a bunch of hits and a bunch of runs instead of losing a one-run ballgame.”
Seaman, the reigning 5A champion, was the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Vikings entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed with a .500 record. But Seaman scored two runs in the top of the first off Heights starter Keylan Killgore, and made them stand.
Killgore, a junior left-hander, struck out seven and used good defense behind him to keep the Vikings from scoring again. But Heights (20-3) was limited to a lone run in the fourth after loading the bases with two outs.
“I was really just going out there like it was 0-0,” Killgore said. “I put faith in my coaches and my team.”
Seaman starter Ryan Zeferjahn hit Heights’ Creighton Sanders with a pitch with two outs in the fourth. Caleb Haight followed with one of his two hits, and Curtis Whitten reached on an infield hit to load the bases.
Seaman’s Tristan Johnson came in for Zeferjahn and hit Blake Day with a 3-0 pitch to cut the Falcons’ deficit to 2-1. But Johnson retired Heights’ Josh Farrington on a fly ball to preserve the lead.
The Falcons put their first two batters on against Johnson in the fifth. But Seaman turned to reliever Turner Middendorf, who escaped the jam with the aid of third baseman Jacob Phillips cutting down Tremaine Thompson at the plate.
Middendorf also retired Brett Carroll on a fly ball to end a bases-loaded threat in the sixth.
“They probably felt like they were one hit from blowing that thing open, and they probably were,” Seaman coach Steve Bushnell said. “But we needed to strand every one of those 15, and it worked out for us.”
“He was throwing the fastball to get ahead, so I instructed them to be aggressive early in the count,” Eisenhower coach Tom Campa said. “We tried some things to try to get going, but it just didn’t go our way.”
Hogan, who threw a perfect game in a regional victory over Kansas City Washington, struck out 10. He walked Eisenhower leadoff batter Griffin Jones to start the bottom of the first, then retired the next 19 before pinch hitter Tyris Klein drew a one-out walk in the seventh.
“When I was warming up, I could feel I had a little extra today,” said Hogan, who struck out Keaton Vansickle to end the game. “My stuff was probably as good as it was all year.”
Miller outdueled Eisenhower sophomore Braden Minor, who shut out the Timberwolves for three innings before Douglas Dowell’s RBI single in the fourth. BV Southwest added three in the fifth, including two when Tigers catcher Dalton Dinkel’s pickoff attempt at third base sailed up the left-field line.
“That’s just something that he’ll learn and grow from,” Campa said. “I told the kids that we just can’t make mistakes because they’ll capitalize on them. We made a mistake, and that did cost us.”
Seaman 2, Heights 1
|Seaman||200||100||0||—||2 6 1|
|Heights||000||100||0||—||1 7 3|
W – Zeferjahn. L – Killgore.
Carroll 8, Andover 0
|Andover||000||000||0||—||0 4 3|
|Carroll||202||130||x||—||8 7 2|
W – Miller. L – Fry.
BV Southwest 5, Eisenhower 0
|BVSW||000||131||0||—||5 9 0|
|Eisenhower||000||000||0||—||0 0 1|