Varsity Baseball

Campus complete 12-inning thriller with walkoff in regional baseball championship

Tyler Kahmann has played a lot of high school games, but he said none compared to Wednesday night.

A three-sport athlete at Campus, Kahmann has helped the Colts to their first football playoff victory in school history and seen the boys basketball program reach heights it hadn’t seen in years.

Even last year with the Campus baseball team, the Colts won state quarterfinal game, just two wins away from a title.

“Craziest game I’ve been a part of in any sport,” Kahmann confirmed.

Campus beat Junction City 13-12 on a walkoff single from Austin Warkins in the bottom of the 12th inning. About 15 minutes earlier, the Colts trailed in the bottom of the 11th with one out and nobody on base.

In the top off the 11th, Junction City junior Joel Nieves hit a fly ball to center field. Campus junior Tanner Leslie caught it and fired home to get sophomore Russell Wilkey tagging from third. It was a bang-bang play at the plate, but Wilkey was ruled safe.

In the bottom half, senior catcher Mateo Martinez earned his sixth walk of the game that would prove to be pivotal. Senior Tyler Kahmann grounded into a fielder’s choice that kept a runner at first. A couple of pitches later with two outs, Kahmann stole second. The ball flew past the infield, and Kahmann took third, too.

As the Junction City center fielder tried to field the ball, Kahmman was waved home. Just like in the top of the 11th, the play at the plate was not in time. Campus tied it up again.

That opened the door for Warkins after a scoreless top of the 12th. With the bases loaded, Warkins sent a ground ball through the middle of the infield for the walkoff single, and the Colts stormed the field.

The thriller was unexpected. Campus started its regional tournament with a five-inning 10-0 win over Topeka, and Junction City struggled for a 3-2 win over Liberal in the other semifinal.

Campus entered the day with a 17-2 record with wins over Derby, Maize, Salina South and Arkansas City. Now the Colts must refocus for their second straight state tournament. Kahmann said this year’s group has exceeded his expectations to this point, but he said they want more than a third-place finish.

“Almost every single player on our team is returning from last year,” Kahmann said. “So we know what it takes to be a good team.”

Campus has one of the most talented lineups in Kansas with Kahmann, a future Emporia State football receiver; Leslie, a potential Division I prospect; Martinez, who is committed to Wichita State; and Jackson Hartley, who has received an offer from WSU, too.

Hartley said they know they can beat a lot of teams on talent alone, but not anymore, not in the postseason. He said it gives him chills just thinking of how last year ended, a 7-0 loss to eventual champion Blue Valley.

“It’s a mindset that we’ve created,” he said. “All these guys are humble. We have been playing varsity together for the last three years, and we’ve really created a foundation. ... I’ve got a great summer team filled with the best around the area, but these guys click like nothing else. We’ve got the talent and the passion. Not one of these guys doesn’t want to be here.”

Campus coach Bryan Classen has had a lot of talented teams roll through Haysville, but none have won a state championship. He said the 2019 group is up there for the most talented he has had.

“If you would have said at the beginning of the year, ‘You’re going to win 17, 18, 19 games, I would have said ‘Yeah, you’re probably right,’” he said.

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Wichita Eagle preps reporter Hayden Barber brings the area updates on all high school sports while adding those hard-to-find human-interest stories on Wichita’s student-athletes.