Underdogs appeared to gain the upper hand Thursday in the Class 4A-II baseball tournament before heavy rains halted play for the day.
Second-seeded Pratt stumbled against seventh-seeded Kansas City Ward in a 3-0 quarterfinal loss. It was the only game to finish Thursday. No. 6-seed Topeka Hayden leads No. 3-seed Rock Creek 6-0 when the teams resume Friday morning. The championship game is now scheduled for Saturday.
KC Ward senior right-hander Brian Whiles pitched a complete game and held Pratt (19-4) hitless through the first 41/3 innings. At the plate, he had three hits and the Cyclones’ lone RBI.
Even though Whiles held Pratt hitless early, the Greenbacks still had chances and were only retired in order once in the game.
With one out in the fifth inning, Ward’s Jacob Nevels was hit by a pitch. Alberto Ramos laid down a sacrifice bunt, but the pitcher’s throw sailed into right field and Nevels scored from first with Ramos taking second. Whiles singled to center, scoring Ramos.
The Cyclones added an insurance run in the sixth after two were out. Shortstop Vincent Esparza singled and took third on Coby Henley’s hit-and-run single. Esparza and Henley executed a double steal, with Esparza getting himself into a rundown, managing to avoid being tagged until Henley had crossed the plate.
Pratt coach Pat Stivers was understandably frustrated afterward.
“We had our pitches to hit; we just didn’t put them in play,” Stivers said. “We didn’t get runs across. We had our opportunities, we just didn’t get it done (Thursday).
“Give (Ward) all the credit; they did what they had to do, put three runs on the board, and we had our opportunities and didn’t get it done.”
Ward coach Dennis Hurla said the Cyclones have recently become a dangerous underdog.
“The last two years we’ve made a habit of beating a higher seed in a first-round game,” he said.
The state tournament allows his team to enter with a clean slate after a challenging regular season, Hurla said.
“Everybody’s 0-0 entering postseason,” he said. “We’ve been there before, so it really isn’t a matter of seeding, it’s how you’re playing when you get there.”
|KC Ward||000||021||0||—||3 9 1|
|Pratt||000||000||0||—||0 5 1|
W – Whiles. L – Kurz.