LAWRENCE, Kan.—Through the first four innings of its game against Blue Valley North, Maize had shown few signs of life. It had a hit here, a hit there, but it was nothing to write home about.
Maize’s Lucas Schauer stepped to the bat in the fifth inning to lead off the Eagles. He reached with a single. It seemed that all season, all Maize needed was one hit, that one mistake by an opposing pitcher to fly in, score some runs, win and go home. It’s what this team does.
Schauer’s lead-off single was that resuscitation to a dying offense. When he reached, the Maize dugout and crowd exploded. That was it. That was the hit that would open things up for Maize to score some runs, win and go home.
Blake Davison came in to pinch-run for Schauer, who reached second. Maize had the momentum it needed. This was the spark.
Davison had a comfortable lead at second base, nothing too far or short. The North shortstop snuck up behind him, pitcher Matthew McHugh stepped off the rubber, turned and threw a bullet at second base. The shortstop tagged Davison out for the second out of the inning.
You could see the air get sucked out of the Maize stands and dugout. The Eagles battled, though. Maize would load the bases in the inning, but a soft grounder from Ryan McBroom ended any hopes of a rally.
“(That pickoff) was huge,” said Maize coach Rocky Helm. “It was one of those situations we’ve worked on and for whatever reason, I don’t know, we got our feet stuck and we were out pretty easy.”
North scored the only run of the game when Hunter Kennon knocked a single in the second inning that brought Lucas Reed home for the game-winner.
“You like to think in a high school game, you can get one run back,” said Helm. “But (North’s) pitcher had three pitches going, kept us off balance.”
McHugh took the mound Friday aware of what he was up against and rose to the challenge. He came away with a shutout win.
“We knew going into today that Matt McHugh would either have to throw a shutout or allow one run,” said BV North coach Jon Pittenger. “He pitched an unbelievable game.”
Campus can’t avoid lopsided inning
The first inning it looked like Campus was going to be all over Manhattan, a team with an identical 18-4 win-loss record. With two runners on, Manhattan elected to intentionally walk Campus standout Justin Burba to load the bases. It ended up as the right decision.
The next batter grounded out to end the inning. But still, Campus loaded the bases in the top of the first. It was all over Manhattan starter Derek Francis.
Who knows what could have happened if Burba had taken his at-bat with two runners on. The University of Oklahoma-signee has come up big for the Colts time and time again. But alas, he did not hit. He was walked.
Manhattan took the lead in the home half of the second when a bloop hit from Craig Berry fell in shallow right field to score Brooks DeBord.
Campus’ Colton Flax showed up in a big way when he launched a double that nestled itself just under the 400-foot sign in right-center field. The hit scored a run to tie the game.
“(Manhattan) is a team we match up well with,” said Campus coach Bryan Clasen. “Then you look at the scoreboard and it looks like they kick our butts, well, I guess they did kick our butts.”
The score was still tied at one in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Manhattan was at bat. Jacob Priddle singled up the middle to break the tie as Bret Fehr scored. Then the wheels fell off.
Next up was Christopher Turner, who ripped a shot up the third base line to score DeBord and Berry to make the score 4-1. And so on, and so on.
The Indians went on to score six runs in the inning to open a 7-1 lead. It went on to score two more in the fifth inning to finish off a 9-1 victory to advance to the state semifinals.
Wichita Heights gets rolled in opening round
Heights took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning over Olathe South. The joy was short-lived.
Heights’ ace Brandon Mercer was on the mound and looked solid through three innings. Then South figured him out.
South had runners on the corners when a pitch got past the Heights catcher and Austin Leonhart scored to tie the game. Blaine Fisher then scored on an infield single off the bat of Matthew Elliott to make the game 3-2.
South went on to score seven more runs to win 10-2 to advance to play Saturday.