McPherson High’s baseball team went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows all in one day.
The Bullpups stunned arch-rival Buhler with a three-run rally in the seventh inning to steal Game 1 4-3 here Monday, but then their defense turned to jello in Game 2 as an error-aided six-run sixth inning for the Crusaders enabled them to gain the split, 11-2.
The second straight split for the Bullpups left them at 9-3 on the season and 4-2 in AVCTL Division III. Buhler is 6-2, 4-2 as well in the league.
The Bullpups, though, didn’t play like a team that entered the day ranked No. 1 in Class 4A Division I, and in fact, they’ll probably relinquish that top spot after going 2-2 in their last four games. They survived the first game despite four boots, then made a half-dozen bobbles in the second game as the wheels fell off. At the plate, they simply didn’t make near the contact they normally do.
While it was a split, MHS’ Heath Gerstner had the look of a coach who felt like his team had been swept.
“We didn’t play well tonight, no question about it,” Gerstner said. “We didn’t play with the energy level we need to play with. We weren’t very consistent at the plate and definitely weren’t very consistent defensively.”
MHS appeared doomed in Game 1, down 3-0 heading into the sixth. The Bullpups finally broke the ice on a bases-loaded walk by Casen Hoover, but then left the bases jammed after having only one out.
Jack Goertzen came on in the seventh for Buhler after outstanding starter Dillon Engelland walked leadoff batter Kolby Reed. An infield hit by Mikey Saverino was followed by a single by Marcus McDaniel. Another bases-loaded walk to Dylan Werries made it 3-2, then Micah McCulley energized the Bullpup faithful by lacing a two-run single for the walk-off and dramatic win, which figured to ignite the Bullpups for Game 2.
Alex Kalkhorst pitched four-hit ball for 6 2/3 innings, but it was Jack Reifschneider who got one out that was credited with the win.
McCulley was nails early in the nightcap, overpowering the Crusaders for the first three innings and an unearned run in the third gave MHS a 1-0 lead. But Buhler scored three in the fourth, keyed by All-Stater Jace Williams’ booming double.
MHS chipped away with a run in the fifth to make it 3-2.
That led to the fatal sixth inning. After McCulley walked his first hitter, Jack Reifschneider came on and the MHS defense fell apart. Five errors and six runs later, it was 9-2 Buhler and it added two more in the sixth.
Reed was a bright spot, scoring both runs. MHS was again quiet at the plate with four hits.
“Out of 14 innings, they beat us in 12 of them. There’s no question about it,” Gerstner said. “For whatever reasons on Monday right now, we’re not very good. Whether I need to get us doing something in pregame or whatever, we’re going to address those things. We’re not being aggressive and I pride ourselves on us being aggressive in all aspects of the game.”
MHS is off until Monday when Andale-Garden Plain comes to town, another high-quality team.
The Bullpup JVs won an exciting first game 8-7, overcoming a 7-0 deficit. The winning run scored on a wild pitch in the eighth.
Trey Hanken and Gabe Hoover had two hits apiece, while Zane Myers drove in two runs. Hoover was the winner in relief.
MHS won Game 2 9-7 to improve to 10-2 on the season. Hanken had two hits and two RBIs and also was the winning pitcher.
• Game 1 •
MHS (4) — McDaniel 3-2-1-0, Werries 2-0-1-1, McCulley 4-0-1-2, Loecker 2-0-1-0, Reed 0-1-0-0, Hoover 1-0-0-1, Schmidt 2-0-0-0, Kalkhorst 2-0-0-0, Seidl 2-0-0-0, Saverino 3-1-0-0, Reifschneider 0-0-0-0.
• Game 2 •
MHS (2) — McDaniel 3-0-0-0, Reed 1-0-0-0, Werries 3-0-1-1, Giddings 1-0-1-0, McCulley 3-0-0-0, Eilts 1-0-0-0, Loecker 2-0-0-0, Hoover 2-0-0-0, Schmidt 3-0-1-0, Kalkhorst 3-0-0-0, Saverino 3-0-0-0, Reed 3-2-1-0, Reifschneider 0-0-0-0.