High School Sports

Maize becomes area's sole 6A baseball hope

LAWRENCE — Maize pitcher Gage Byers maintained his composure after his team's defensive problems in the third inning and didn't allow an earned run in his complete-game, 3-2 victory over Olathe North on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Class 6A baseball tournament.

No earned runs were scored as Maize advanced to today's semifinals. After a passed ball on strike three and a single put two Olathe North runners on base, Maize third baseman JC Sturgeon made a throwing error that allowed both runners to score.

In the fourth, Maize made another error, but Byers pitched around it with a strikeout and a double play with runners on first and second.

"You've just got to battle through," Byers said. "The defense will always have your back even if they make a mistake. I just kept making pitches and they kept making plays."

Byers' work in the fourth inning kept Olathe North from retaking the lead after Maize tied it 2-2 in the third with a pair of unearned runs. Two batters after Olathe North right fielder Matt Fulk dropped a short fly ball, Ross Cunningham hit a two-out, two-run single.

"I didn't feel like our guys pressed," Maize coach Rocky Helm said. "Ross came up with the big hit with two outs to good us even."

Maize took the lead on another error by Olathe North with two outs in the fifth. Maize had a chance to add on in the sixth, but Thomas Clay was called out at home trying to score on a wild pitch even though he appeared to slide in well ahead of the tag.

Helm was ejected as he was walking back to the coaches' box after arguing. An automatic one-game suspension is supposed to occur after an ejection, but the suspension was lifted and Helm will coach Maize in the semifinals.

Byers worked around a one-out walk in the seventh and finished off his 106-pitch complete game with a called strikeout of David Haase.

Olathe North (10-13) 002 000 0 — 2 2 5 Maize (21-2) 002 010 x — 3 5 2

W—Byers. L—Vielock.

SM Northwest 6, Goddard 5 — SM Northwest's two most dangerous hitters came up at all the wrong times for Goddard. Adam Giacalone and Chris Mansker drove in all of SM Northwest's runs in an eight-inning win.

Mansker drove a Nolan Huelsmann pitch to the warning track with the bases loaded to drive in the winning run in the eighth.

"I didn't even think about it," said Mansker, who also hit a solo home run in the second inning. "I just tried to do what I always do and get that run in any way, any how."

SM Northwest led 5-4 after a risky but by-the-book decision by Goddard coach Tom Campa backfired.

After laboring starter Devin Welch allowed runners to first and third with no outs in the fifth, Campa made a trip to the mound to offer Welch encouragement.

As soon as he returned to the dugout, Campa went back to the mound to remove Welch and bring in left-hander Cameron Fisher to face the lefty-hitting Giacalone.

But on the first pitch, an off-speed pitch down and away, Giacalone homered to right field, a three-run shot that gave SM Northwest the lead.

"It was a great pitch, it was down and out," Goddard catcher Levi Meyer said. "We were talking about it in the dugout and I don't know how he hit that ball like he did. Any other person, it would have been a line drive or something."

Giacalone, SM Northwest's ace with two perfect games this season, seemed to gain strength on the mound after his home run, allowing only an infield single and striking out three combined during the fifth and sixth innings.

He tired in the seventh, though, and was relieved after issuing his second walk of the inning, a two-out free pass to cleanup hitter Dalton Demel. The next hitter, Meyer, drove a single up the middle to score the tying run.

"I was nervous, I'm not going to lie," Meyer said. "I just tried to breathe deeply and do the best I can for my team and give my team the opportunity to win."

The next batter, Tanner Lanterman, grounded out and Goddard escaped a jam in the bottom of the seventh before two walks and Goddard's fifth error loaded the bases with one out.

"We were glad to be here at the state tournament," Campa said. "Unfortunately, you can't make five errors and win a ballgame, especially at crucial times. That's probably what hurt us the most."

Goddard (16-7) 102 100 10 — 5 10 5 SM Northwest (20-2) 011 030 01 — 6 6 0

W—Brooks. L—N. Huelsmann. HR—SM Northwest, Mansker, Giacalone.

Lawrence Free State 11, Northwest 0 — Northwest was run-ruled in five innings after Free State went ahead 11-0 with a seven-run third.

Northwest pitcher Ethan Chadick didn't make it out of the first inning, allowing four runs before exiting with two outs. Tim Lewis started the onslaught with a two-run triple off Chadick, and Adam Petz's RBI single made it 4-0.

Northwest couldn't get going against Free State left-hander Cody Kukuk, who has orally committed to play at Kansas. The Grizzlies didn't get their first hit until the fourth inning, when they already trailed by double digits.

Wichita Northwest (18-5) 000 00 — 0 1 2 Lawrence Free State (19-4) 407 0x — 11 10 1

W—Kakuk. L—Chadick.

Blue Valley 6, Manhattan 0

Blue Valley (18-5) 001 211 1 — 6 8 1 Manhattan (19-4) 000 000 0 — 0 3 3

W—Stanek. L—Giambrone.