When the Rose Hill baseball team arrives at Evans Stadium in Salina on Thursday, the nerves of playing in the state tournament won’t hit them like most teams. The Rockets will be making their third straight trip to the 4A-I tournament.
“We’ve been there the last three years and I think our guys won’t be as anxious as most teams,” Rose Hill coach Scott Carr said. “Having the experience of going the past three years will be beneficial to our guys.”
In the previous two trips, the Rockets won quarterfinal games before losing in the semifinals.
“This is our year, we think we’ve got what we need to be successful this year,” Rose Hill senior Brett Bonar said. “Going our last two years and taking third each of those years is motivation to us. We want to win three games and be crowned champs.”
The Rockets are the No. 2 seed and face No. 7 Bishop Miege (13-9).
“Miege is definitely not your normal 7 seed,” Carr said. “Our guys are looking forward to the matchup they have at hand, they knew eventually they were going to have to beat the best to win the title, so why not start with a team like Miege?”
Rose Hill has 10 seniors with the rest juniors.
“It’s kind of weird not having any younger guys on the team,” Bonar said. “We’re all like a family though, a lot of us have been playing together for such a long time and we either play for or against each other in the summer. We all have that same mentality and want to win each game we play in.”
During the seniors’ freshman year, they won five games. They’ve won 50 over the past three years.
“It’s remarkable what these guys have been able to do,” Carr said.
Rose Hill has won 11 straight games since losing to Collegiate in the first game of the doubleheader April 25th.
“We’re definitely playing the best we’ve played all season right now,” Carr said. “I think we’re batting close to .350 in that stretch as a team and have only committed six total errors.”
Junior center fielder Nate Scantlin, a 2015 All-Metro pick, is hitting .500 from the third spot in the lineup, while junior shortstop Griffin McBride leads off and is hitting .435. Bonar hits third and is hitting .377.
The pitching staff has been strong lately, led by McBride (4-3, 0.73 ERA) and senior Sam Grant (4-0, 1.04 ERA). Rose Hill’s team ERA is 1.71.
“I think if our pitching continues to do what they’ve done all year and our defense plays well behind them then we’ll have a good shot,” Bonar said.