Ell-Saline will be playing for some hardware at the 2A-1A State Baseball Tournament in Great Bend Friday afternoon. However, it will not be the trophy the Cardinal baseball squad had hoped to claim.
The fifth-seeded Cardinals were upended in the first State semifinal round game early Friday afternoon by the tournament’s eight seed, the Pittsburg – St. Mary’s Colgan Panthers.
Pitt-Colgan was the beneficiary of some early nerves from the Cardinal defense, plating three runs through the first three innings, only one of which was earned off of Ell-Saline senior starting pitcher Nathan Parks.
The big blow from the Panthers came in the top of the fourth inning. Cardinal sophomore Kaden Griffin came on in relief of Parks, hitting the first batter he faced. After that, a Cardinal error at shortstop allowed a second base runner to reach, putting runners at the corners with nobody out. A wild pitch allowed Panther senior Logan Lindsey to score from third to make it 4-0.
A single off the bat of junior Luke Orender again put runners at the corners with nobody out before an RBI groundout from freshman Caleb Hamilton gave Pitt-Colgan a 5-0 advantage. Following a Panther strikeout, senior Bryce Hutchins was hit by a Griffin pitch to reach first. Hutchins was then caught in a rundown between first and second, but was able to stay alive long enough to allow Orender to score from third, making the score 6-0.
Ell-Saline got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth as Cardinal sophomore Connor Anglin singled to drive in senior Spencer Came. Junior Joel Came was hit by a pitch in the next at-bat, giving Ell-Saline a golden opportunity to get back into the game, loading the bases with nobody out.
The threat was snuffed out when senior Murphy Seim smashed a line drive right at Pitt-Colgan shortstop Cade Simmons, who threw behind Anglin at second base for a double play. Cardinal senior Owen Bradley followed with a fly-ball to shallow center field and was retired on a fantastic sliding catch by Hutchins, the Panther center fielder, to end the inning.
Pitt-Colgan tacked on three more insurance runs in the top of the 7th off Cardinal senior relief pitcher Malik Myers, leading to a 9-1 Panther victory.
Ell-Saline will face off with loser of the second semifinal matchup currently taking place between seventh-seeded Chase County and third-seeded Spearville at approximately 3:30pm this afternoon, or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Chase County vs. Spearville matchup, whichever comes first.
A perennial 2A-1A baseball powerhouse, Pitt-Colgan gets the winner of the Chase County vs. Spearville matchup and will vie for its 15th State championship trophy in the last 23 seasons in the final game from Great Bend later this evening.