Jack Reifschneider took off after TJ Roberts’ fly ball to the gap like a frightened deer.
No way, it appeared, that Reifschneider — McPherson High’s Gold Glove center fielder — could catch up to Roberts’ blast, which would have tied the game up for Augusta in the top of the seventh inning.
But Reifschneider left his feet, fully extended, and made a spectacular catch to end the game and preserve MHS’ 8-7 first-game victory.
He then pitched five solid innings in Game 2, as the Bullpups rollicked their way to a 13-3 rout and sweep of an Oriole team that “took us behind the woodshed last year,” as MHS coach Heath Gerstner described it.
“My goodness, that kid can cover massive loads of ground out there,” Gerstner said of Reifschneider's catch to save the win. “He makes really tough plays look easy sometimes.”
The first game ebbed and flowed as MHS saw a 3-0 lead disappear in the fourth as the Orioles scored four times. The Bullpups tied it in the bottom of the inning, then took a 5-4 lead in the fifth.
But Augusta scored three times in the sixth against MHS relievers Jacob Loecker and Marcus McDaniel for a 7-5 lead.
Undaunted, the Bullpups scored three times in the bottom of that inning with Casen Hoover delivering a two-run smash to tie it and Caleb Schmidt scored the winner on a wild pitch.
“First game out, I was surprised at our nerves even with as much experience as we have,” Gerstner said. “We were nervous and partly because of the team we were playing is a great baseball team.”
Hoover, McDaniel and Reifschneider all had two hits for MHS, with Hoover and Mikey Saverino driving in two runs.
Schmidt had worked the first five innings before turning the game over to the 'pen. Most of the runs he allowed in that troublesome fourth inning were unearned as two errors opened the door.
Reifschneider and Micah McCulley actually made two tremendous catches apiece in the game as despite four errors, the Bullpups’ defense counteracted that with some great plays.
The second game was stress-free. MHS jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning, with McCulley coming up with a big two-run single, and bookended it in the sixth with five more runs to close out the run-rule victory.
McCulley and McDaniel drove in three runs apiece. Reifschneider worked five effective innings, allowing two runs, to pick up the win and Loecker finished up.
“I thought he had really good stuff through three and then just really gritted it out to give to get us five,” Gerstner said of Reifschneider.
The Bullpup JVs split, winning the first game 9-7 and losing the second, 11-4. No offensive leaders were available.
MHS goes to Mulvane on Monday.
At-bats, runs, hits and RBI
• Game 1 •
MHS (8) — McDaniel 2-1-2-0, Schmidt 3-1-1-1, Hoover 4-0-2-2, Loecker 2-0-0-0, Werries 1-2-0-0, McCulley 4-0-0-0, Saverino 3-0-1-2, Kalkhorst 2-2-1-0, Reifschneider 3-2-2-1, Reed 0-0-0-0.
• Game 2 •
MHS (13) — McDaniel 3-1-2-3, Schmidt 3-2-0-0, Hoover 5-1-0-1, Loecker 2-3-2-1, Werries 3-0-0-0, McCulley 3-2-2-3, Saverino 1-2-0-0, Kalkhorst 2-0-1-1, Reifschneider 2-1-1-0, Reed 0-0-0-0, Sitts 0-1-0-0.