Put into no other context than wanting his team to win a baseball game, Circle coach Cameron Sell’s requests before Thursday’s Class 4A tournament opener against Concordia were pretty simple.
It’s all the other stuff that went with it — the emotions, the seniors, the stage — that made it a tad more complicated.
"I asked them to win," Sell said. "I asked them to make history. I asked them to be the first team from Circle to ever win a game at state."
The Thunderbirds, who defeated Concordia 3-0, will be playing more baseball this week.
"So proud," Sell said. "They are tough. They have heart."
Circle sophomore Garrett Hutson struck out nine in a shutout to advance the Thunderbirds to Friday’s semifinals against Topeka Hayden.
Hutson, who now has 91 strikeouts this season, broke Circle’s single-season strikeout record.
"The first time through I didn’t want to show (Concordia) anything but fastball, fastball, fastball ... then I started to mix it up," Hutson said. "Just being out here with my best friends and playing on this stage is special."
Circle went up 1-0 on a wild pitch in the top of the second inning, then got two more runs on a two-RBI single from senior shortstop Alan Longshaw that scored Braden Kirkpatrick and Jesse Carpenter in the sixth inning.
"I hate tight games, so more than anything I wanted to give us some room there," Longshaw said. "I could tell Garrett, by the way he was throwing, was going to be able to almost win the game by himself."
Concordia loaded the bases in the seventh, but Hutson, sporting a freshly-shorn mohawk, ended things with another strikeout.
"For the seniors, for the school, for the team I wanted to get it done," Hutson said. "And if we need me to tomorrow, I could probably pitch a couple of more innings."
Topeka Hayden 5, Andale-Garden Plain 1 — Hayden doesn’t need much of an opening, and it learns from mistakes rapidly. Andale-Garden Plain was just the latest victim in the Wildcats’ patterned pursuit of state titles.
"There are a lot of teams, I’m sure, that would love to be 21-2," Andale-Garden Plain coach Levi Boyd said. "But you can’t play a team like Hayden and make the mistakes we made ... they jumped on that and took advantage."
Andale-Garden Plain entered state with a 21-1 record and the No. 2 seed.
Hayden is going for its fifth state title and first since Wichita State pitcher T.J. McGreevy led them to the crown in 2009. Jacob Tetuan was the winning pitcher, throwing a complete game with seven strikeouts, one walk and four hits.
"I got tired at the end, but I kept my mind focused and got through it," Tetuan said. "When I made mistake, the guys took care of me at the plate or in the field."
Andale-Garden Plain got out of trouble in the top of the second inning, when Hayden couldn’t get any runs across the plate with runners on first and third with one out. But they weren’t as lucky in the third.
With the bases loaded and one out, Hayden’s Jacob Kirmer laid down a perfect bunt on the third-base line that scored Reily Martin, and a throwing error at the plate scored Jacob Head for a 2-0 lead. Brogan Heinen’s sacrifice fly gave the Wildcats a 3-0 lead.
"We took (Hayden) too lightly at the start," Andale-Garden Plain starting pitcher Tyler Jones said. "They’re the best hitting team we’ve faced this year and it wasn’t our best defensive game."
Hayden took advantage of another mistake in the sixth inning when Quinton Smith scored on a throwing error for a 4-0 lead.
"I was really happy with our kids, I thought they played really fundamental baseball and executed on both sides," Hayden coach Bill Arnold said. "The kids in our program, they grow up with the kids above them winning state titles and they expect to do the same."
Tetuan’s only trouble came in the seventh inning, after his teammates spotted him another run — this one on an RBI single from Kirmer — for a 5-0 lead.
"Tetuan pitched really well, he threw hard the entire game," Boyd said. "He did everything he needed to help his team win."
After Andale-Garden Plain scored on an RBI single by Wyatt Winter to make the score 5-1 and had runners on first and third with one out, Tetuan retired Kyle Simon and Joe Harvey to end the game.
"Our goal is to get to the state championship," Tetuan said. "That’s been the focus all year."
DeSoto 7, Pratt 0 — DeSoto’s Dylan Holden threw a no-hitter and was one throwing error away from a perfect game as the Wildcats advanced to play Iola in the semifinals.
Holden faced the minimum amount of batters (21). The lone baserunner, who reached on an error in the sixth inning, was out when the next batter hit into a double play. Holden struck out six and walked none.
DeSoto scored three runs on Pratt errors and one on a wild pitch.
DeSoto 7, Pratt 0
|DeSoto||020||012||2||—||7 7 1|
|Pratt||000||000||0||—||0 0 3|
W — Holden. L — Forshee.
T. Hayden 5, Andale-GP 1
|Hayden||003||001||1||—||5 10 0|
|Andale-GP||000||000||1||—||1 4 4|
W — Tetuan. L — Jones.
Circle 3, Concordia 0
|Circle||001||002||0||—||3 3 0|
|Concordia||000||000||0||—||0 7 2|
W — Hutson. L — Gieber.