Central defeats South in tight game, take 3rd at State

WICHITA, Kan. — The Salina Central Mustangs’ historic run through the Kansas Class 5A Baseball Playoffs came to a sweet close on Friday evening, defeating crosstown rival Salina South 2-0 to take third place at Eck Stadium.

Both Salina Central and Salina South knocked off the top two seeds in the State Tournament Thursday, with Central defeating the defending State Champion Bishop Carroll Golden Eagles 7-2, and Salina South outlasting the Pittsburg Purple Dragons 5-3 in 8 innings.

Friday didn’t go as well for either team early on, with Central falling in five innings to the #4 seed Spring Hill 12-2 in Semifinal #1, and South dropping a game to the #3 seed Saint Thomas Aquinas 16-6 in 6 innings in Semifinal #2. And while both would have rather played for the State Championship Friday night, the renewal of a local rivalry added extra spice to the Third Place game.

Heading into both teams’ third game in two days, pitching was an immediate concern, as both bullpens were low on available arms, and each team expected to have all hands on deck when it came to closing out the season on the mound; however, that issue never came up in the consolation game.

Salina South sent Senior Tristan Bernhardt to the rubber to start, and he did more than his fair share, pitching a complete game, allowing just two earned runs on five hits, striking out four and allowing just one walk. Bernhardt surrendered the games’ only two runs in the second inning, when Central struck with four hits.

Mustang Sophomore Bodie Rodriguez got the inning started with a one-out double, before Sophomore Oscar Perez laced an RBI single into right field to break open the scoring. Then, Junior Maximus Maes added another RBI on a double to deep right field, pushing Central’s edge to 2-0.

Following that, Bernhardt allowed just two of the final 17 batters he faced to reach base. A stellar performance for Kris Meis’s Cougars, who badly needed quality pitching to give themselves a chance.

Salina Central though, in the same boat, would get a great start and then some, as Sophomore Chance Hogan went the distance for Dee Kolzow’s Mustangs, and had an answer for every potential rally South would attempt.

Hogan, in total, went 7 innings, surrendering just four hits, striking out five Cougars on two walks, and while South saw baserunners in five of the seven innings, Hogan never allowed a Cougar baserunner past second base. The complete game shutout allowed the Mustangs to polish off one of the most remarkable postseason runs in Kansas High School Baseball history.

As the 5A West’s #16 seed, barely making the playoffs at just 7-19 entering the postseason, the Mustangs ousted #1 seed Maize South 12-8 in the opening round, and survived #8 seed Hutchinson 3-2 to earn the program’s first trip to the State Tournament since 2011. And as if that wasn’t enough, the Mustangs gave Coach Kolzow another remarkable upset of Bishop Carroll to secure his first-ever win at State as the Mustang Head Coach, in what is his final season.

Kolzow closes out his 17-year tenure as Head Baseball coach, and remarkable 51 years in high school coaching, with a 3rd place finish, and trophy to take into retirement, made sweeter by the victory over his biggest rival. Salina Central closes out the season with a record of 11-20 overall, and will return all but three Seniors (Brody Farthing, Kyler Brecheisen, and Gunnar Gross) to next year’s team.

“Well, it means a lot,” said Coach Kolzow, emotionally after the win. “Right now, I’m sad, but it’s time and I’m going to miss the kids. I told them I’ll be out next year (to cheer them on). But I mean, what a way to go out. It just says what type of kids we’ve got.”



For Salina South, the loss will sting, as the Cougars had their chances, but all-in-all, to be disappointed on a top-four finish in the ultra competitive Class 5A, certainly says a lot about where the program sits as 2024 comes to a close.

Kris Meis and the Cougars finish the year at 16-15 overall, having made their own impressive run to state, returning to Wichita for the first time since 2019 after defeating the #6 seed Great Bend in the opening round 5-4 in 8 innings, and the #14 seed Emporia 6-2 to earn the trip to Wichita.

The Cougars will replace seven Seniors heading into the offseason (Brady Howard, Kaden Budke, Alex Davidson, Dawson Dooley, Drew Emerson, Ryan Brown, and Tristan Bernhardt), but with several key contributors returning, and an exciting underclassmen core surrounding them, Salina South can feel more than optimistic moving forward as well.

Whether fans don the Green and Gold, or the Maroon and White, anyone in Salina will be able to look to the future of baseball in the 67401 zip code with confidence and excitement, and look forward to more potential crosstown rivalry matchups at the 5A State Tournament next year and beyond.

Fans wishing to relive the thrilling 2-0 matchup between Salina Central and Salina South can listen in via the Newsradio 1150 KSAL Soundcloud page with the link below. All games for both teams State Tournament runs are archived on the page as well.






Salina Central – 020 – 000 – 0 / 2 (2 R / 5 H / 0 E / 3 LOB)

Salina South – 000 – 000 – 0 / 0 (0 R / 4 H / 0 E / 6 LOB)




Chance Hogan (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 K, 2 BB, 4 H



Keaton Smith – 0-3

Jack Gordon – 0-3

Gunnar Gross – 1-3, Single

Grayton Gross – 0-3

Bodie Rodriguez – 1-3, Double, Run Scored

Tyrus Young – 0-3

Oscar Perez – 1-2, Single, RBI, Walk, Run Scored

Maximus Maes – 1-3, Double, RBI

Chance Hogan – 1-2, Single




Tristan Bernhardt (L) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 K, 1 BB, 5 H



Kolton Herbel – 0-3

Brady Howard – 0-2, Walk

Kaden Budlke – 0-3

Dawson Dooley – 2-3, 2 Singles

Jace Humphrey – 0-2, Walk

Ryan Brown – 1-2, Single

Drew Emerson – 0-1

Tristan Bernhardt – 0-3

Landon Putman – 0-3

Aidan Speilman – 1-3, Single