Varsity Baseball

Moment of the Year: Ark City wins baseball title after 12-year state drought

Arkansas City won the Class 4A-Division I baseball state championship in 2018.
Arkansas City won the Class 4A-Division I baseball state championship in 2018. The Wichita Eagle

Varsity Kansas has introduced a new series, Moment of the Year. The series will highlight the top moment or performance from the 2017-18 high school sports season for each of the Wichita-area schools. And now, the Arkansas City Bulldogs.

In a remarkable athletic year for Arkansas City, the Bulldog baseball team was the icing.

Ark City beat Bishop Miege 11-1 in six innings to claim the Class 4A-Division I state championship. It was the second baseball title in school history and the first since 2002.

The Bulldogs hadn't been to the state tournament in 12 years.

Ark City put together a magical season with an outstanding roster. The Bulldogs finished the season 21-4. They won the AVCTL II title and had three players named to the All-League first team, including the Pitcher of the Year Hunter O'Toole. Aaron Bucher was named the league's Coach of the Year to match.

But the Bulldogs were a complete team. Six other players were named to the AVCTL II second team, including Brice Nittler and Nate Spencer, who combined for six RBIs in the state final.

Nittler got it going early for Ark City. In the bottom of the first, he slapped a three-run double to center that gave the Bulldogs a 4-0 lead. Spencer drove in another in the first with a single two batters later.

On the mound, first team utility Andrew Brautman was strong. He threw 4 1/3 innings, allowing just two hits with four strikeouts. Cade Gonzales came in to close and slammed the door and clinched the title.

Ark City started the tournament with another run-rule victory, a 10-0 win over Independence in five innings. Garrett VanDeventer, who has committed to Wichita State, was nails on the mound, allowing just two hits.

But the Bulldogs found trouble in the state semifinals against Andover Central. The Jaguars took the eventual champs to nine innings, but Ark City walked it off to reach the state title game.

The run-rule victory was the first in a baseball state final in any classification since 2015.

Other key moments

  • Arkansas City boys basketball reaches the Class 4A-Division I state semifinals and finishes third after a long state tournament drought. The Bulldogs beat Andover Central in the third-place game 57-55.
  • Bulldogs wrestling team comes home with its 21st state championship in school history and its first since 2013. Ark City won the title by 57.5 points over Andover Central and had four individual state champions.
  • Ark City girls tennis team comes runner-up at the 4A tournament, just eight points behind Collegiate. Kelsie Burr/Chassidy Weathers led the Bulldogs with a championship match appearance.
  • Bulldogs' softball team clinches its 4A-I regional title with a 12-0 win over Winfield. Ark City qualified for the state tournament with the win.
  • Ark City's Andrew Wilson wins the 4A boys 400 meters and doubles down with the Bulldogs' 4x400-meter relay team. Ark City beat the school record with the state title.
  • The Bulldogs' top boys singles tennis player Pierce Klaassen finishes fourth at the 4A tournament. Klaassen won his regional tournament and came into state with a 27-5 record.