Varsity Baseball

State Baseball Recap: Only 4 Wichita area teams remain after quarterfinal round

Carroll baseball walks it off in extras to set up rematch of state championship

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Carroll celebrates it regional tournament victory after senior RJ Lara delivers the walk-off winner. Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

A year and one week ago, Bishop Carroll was in almost the same spot and had the same result.

In last year’s regional championship game, the Golden Eagles trailed Valley Center in their Class 5A regional championship game, but then-senior RJ Lara hit a walkoff single to earn their spot in the state tournament.

Thursday at Wichita State’s Eck Stadium, Carroll gave up a game-tying run to Salina South in the top of the seventh. The Eagles didn’t walk it off in the bottom half, but senior Cale Blasi came through in the eighth to earn a 2-1 win and set up a rematch of last year’s Class 5A state championship game against Topeka Seaman in the semifinal round.

Blasi stepped up with the bases loaded and one out. He just needed to put pressure on the defense with any ball in play to force a play at the plate, and he delivered with a chopper to second. The throw was off line, and senior Logan Stockemer crossed home to win it.

Carroll coach Charlie Ebright said he needed to take a few breaths to calm down; he was upset the Eagles were in that spot to begin with.

“They were celebrating, but I was mad,” Ebright said. “Eventually I thought, ‘OK, we’re still in it and have a chance to win a championship. I think they’ll learn from it, know what’s at stake and play like themselves.”

Carroll entered the quarterfinal round as the No. 1 seed in Class 5A. The Golden Eagles are one of two undefeated teams left in Kansas and the only in the state’s top four classifications. Salina South didn’t offer a lot of offensive options, and senior Jack Ebright threw six nearly flawless innings.

On paper, Carroll should have breezed into the semifinals.

“We had a few guys swing it, but for the most part, we didn’t,” Ebright said. “But it’s survive and advance.”

Ebright said he is just thankful to still have another shot. All season, Carroll played in one one-run game, and it came in an all but meaningless season finale against Wichita West. But Ebright said those tight spots are where his group shines.

He will hope they shine again Friday against Seaman.

Last year, Seaman beat Carroll 7-2 in the state title game. It held the Golden Eagles away from their first championship since 2012 and third in school history. Ebright said there won’t need to be much of a pep talk.

Seaman beat Arkansas City, last year’s 4A-Division I champ, 1-0 in its quarterfinal game.

“Giant killers,” Ebright said. “We’ve got to be a giant killer.”

Campus sweeps biggest rival en route to state semifinal

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Campus’ Tanner Leslie Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Campus and Derby students are almost constantly going back and forth, but the Colts added a nail to their arguments Thursday.

For the third time this season, Campus beat its biggest rival, but this one came on the big stage. The Colts fended off the No. 8 seed for a 5-1 win in the Class 6A state quarterfinals to advance to play No. 5 Mill Valley in the Final Four.

Campus came into the state tournament with a bit of shaky momentum. Although the Colts won their regional tournament, it took 12 innings against Junction City and a walkoff from Austin Warkins.

No such theatrics were needed in Lawrence.

Thursday was Campus’ biggest win over Derby this season after 6-4 and 6-5 wins during the regular season. Last year, the two were supposed to meet in the Class 6A third-place game after semifinal losses, but it was never played.

Campus will look to reach its first state championship game in recent history and win its first state championship since it was in Class 5A in 1991.

Mulvane fires on as Cinderella of Kansas high school baseball

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Mulvane’s Gage Gerlach Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

No other team is left with a worse record, and no team has a lower seed, but that doesn’t matter to Mulvane.

The Wildcats are a game away from .500 and a game away from the state championship matchup after a Class 4A stunning quarterfinal win over No. 2 Trinity Academy, 7-0. Trinity entered state with just one loss.

Every ounce of momentum is with Mulvane.

The Wildcats schocked the Wichita area during their regional tournament with a win over the No. 4 seed in Class 4A West, rival Andale/Garden Plain, and followed it up with another victory over Clay Center/Wakefield.

Although Mulvane had the feel good factor going, its pedigree was going to be tested in Salina at state. The Wildcats passed and then some. They will face the winner of No. 3 Nickerson (16-2) and No. 6 Tonganoxie (12-9). That first round game was postponed to 11 a.m. Friday because of inclement weather.

Buhler thrashes Chanute to continue hot spring season

The burst came in the top of the sixth.

Heading into the frame, Buhler held a two-run lead over Chanute. Three outs later, it was 9-0, and that’s how it ended as the Crusaders booked their spot into the Class 4A state semifinals against No. 1 Fort Scott (22-1).

Buhler sophomore pitcher Taiden Hawkinson threw a one-hit shutout, and senior second baseman Kaleb Wiggins led the way at the plate for the Crusaders.

Buhler has now won nine of its past 10 games, including a regional championship and state quarterfinal. The Crusaders are playing as good as any team in Class 4A but now must get through one of its bests in Fort Scott.

The Crusaders are seeking their second state championship in school history, the first coming in 2016, the last year Buhler won a state game until Thursday.

Ark City loses heartbreaker to champions

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Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

In a rare quarterfinal meeting of two defending state champions, only one run came across.

Ark City, last year’s Class 4A-Division I champ, lost 1-0 to Topeka Seaman, who is seeking to defend its 5A title.

Ark City senior pitcher Garrett Vandeventer, who was committed to Wichita State, threw a gem and gave up the only run in the top of the third inning on a bloop single to left field.

After the Bulldogs’ regional championship victory over Kapaun last week, they noted they couldn’t win games with sheer power as they did last year. It was going to come down to pitching and small ball, and they were right.

Ark City finished its season 13-9. Topeka Seaman will meet No. 1 Bishop Carroll in the semifinal round, a rematch of last year’s 5A championship game.

Cheney sent packing after rocky second half

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Cheney’s Kauy Kuhn Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Cheney started the 2019 season with a dozen straight wins, but in the last month, the Cardinals were good for a loss about once a week on average.

They hit that at the worst time Thursday in their Class 3A state quarterfinal against Wellsville, losing 12-1. Together with the Cheney softball team, the Cardinals finished the state tournaments with one run over 14 innings.

Cheney had found a bit of form late in the regular season and captured it through the regional tournament, beating Haven 6-3 to get to state. But that momentum didn’t last in Emporia.

Cheney has now gone more than a half decade without a state tournament win. The Cards have reached the quarterfinals three of the past four years.

Independent can’t capture lightning against unbeaten

One of Wichita’s smallest high schools had one of Kansas’ two remaining unbeaten baseball teams in a fight.

The Panthers lost to now-20-0 Elkhart 4-1 in their Class 2-1A state quarterfinal. They entered as the No. 8 seed looking for the upset to start another run toward a state championship, but it fell apart.

Last season was a forgettable one for Independent, but in 2017, the Panthers won the Class 3A state title. They were the No. 1 seed that year and entered state with only one loss, not 10 like this year.

Sedgwick loses lead, falls out in first round

The Cardinals held a lead, but Rossville has sent Sedgwick to the station.

Sedgwick lost 5-4 in its Class 2-1A state quarterfinal Thursday. The Cardinals finished their season 15-3. Rossville will play Marion in its state semifinal.

The Cardinals hadn’t reached a state tournament since 2015 when they were in Class 3A.

State Brackets

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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.