AUGUSTA – Augusta’s first regional baseball championship since 1999 came Wednesday night after beating Andale and overcoming the Orioles’ own defensive problems.
“The plan was to out-hit Andale and not commit as many errors — but that went out the window,” Augusta coach Doug Jefferson said. “You really can’t coach for errors, so once we started making those errors I tried to keep my guys calm. We were pressing a little hard, trying to make too good of the plays.”
Augusta’s 3-2 victory in the Class 4A-Division I regional, which advances the Orioles to next week’s state tournament in Salina, came in a nine-error game – five by Augusta.
Three Augusta errors led to Andale’s second-inning run, but Augusta quickly recovered. In the Orioles’ third inning, Andale committed three errors of its own. The biggest lapse was a wild pitch during a stolen-base attempt with two on and no outs. Mason Hiser squared to bunt, but didn’t have to when the ball got away. Cody Wesbrooks and Connor Hurst scored on the play.
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“Mason made a great decision in a …situation like that when he pulled back and the ball went over the catcher’s head,” Hurst said. “I saw Cody sprinting in and I thought I had enough time to get in, so I was hauling trying to get to home.”
Augusta took the lead and held steady for the remainder of the game despite committing two errors, which prompted Jefferson to come out and talk to Hiser. Jefferson said just “wanted to calm him down,” and he did just that. Hiser didn’t allow a hit and closed out the game with a standing ovation from the crowd.
“When we started making the errors I looked at my teammates and told them to keep their heads up,” Hiser said. “I knew we had a long game and those errors just happened to be in the first four innings, so we did a great job of responding.
“Getting the ovation felt amazing. It’s been 16 years since we been to state and as a senior just accomplishing that it felt amazing.”