For baseball fans who enjoy great pitching and defense, Grant Complex was the place to be on Monday.
McPherson High’s No. 1-ranked Bullpups seldom put the ball in play in the two games, yet their strong pitching and timely defensive plays enabled them to squeak out a pair of one-run victories over No. 3-ranked Andale-Garden Plain, 2-1 and 3-2.
The Bullpups improved to 14-4 with one doubleheader left to play on Thursday at Winfield.
“We know what we’re going to get from our pitchers,” said MHS coach Heath Gerstner, as his starters Micah McCulley and Jack Reifschneider were nails. “They were really awesome. They both threw extremely well. I thought our defense backed up our pitchers. We didn’t necessarily strike a lot of guys out, but I thought Dylan Werries made a bunch of plays and our outfielders made a bunch of plays.”
None was bigger though than a well-executed pickoff play at first base to end Game 2. Andale-Garden Plain had runners on first and third with two out and the Bullpups elected to play off the runner Harrison Denk at first. However, Bullpup first baseman Jacob Loecker then snuck in behind Denk and Reifschneider’s throw was on the money as Denk basicially tagged himself out.
“That was a great play,” Gerstner said. “Very heads-up. What a great way to end the game.”
The Bullpup offense was rather puny, however. In Game 1, their two runs came in the fourth inning on just one hit. Andale, though, was held without a run until the seventh when McCulley ran into trouble, with Marcus McDaniel coming on to nail it down with a huge strikeout with the tying and go-ahead runners on base.
In Game 2, all three MHS runs scored on wild pitches, including two on one wild pitch as the catcher was unable to find the ball and McCulley and Loecker both sped in. Loecker had scored MHS’ first run on a double-steal.
“Not one guy on the team could say ‘that I swung the bat well today,’” Gerstner said. “We need to get a lot of swings in. On Mondays it’s hard to get a rhythm going.”
These games were immense for MHS.
“I thought Andale was a great team. They are a state championship-caliber team,” Gerstner said. “Our goal today was a sweep. To get a sweep was huge for us.”
MHS’ JVs split, losing 11-0 and winning 9-8.
MHS had only three hits in Game 1, one each by Zane Myers, Honestee Whittker and Paxton Leaf. In Game 2, the Bullpups fell behind 5-0 in the top of the first, but countered with eight runs in the bottom of the inning and then held on. Shane Starkel drove in two runs and scored two runs to lead the offense.
• Game 1 •
MHS (2) — McDaniel 3-1-1-1, Werries 2-0-1-0, McCulley 3-0-1-1, Loecker 2-0-0-0, Hoover 2-0-0-0, Kalkhorst 3-0-0-0, Saverino 3-0-1-0, K. Reed 2-0-0-0, Reifschneider 1-1-1-0.
• Game 2 •
MHS (3) — McDaniel 3-0-0-0, Werries 3-0-2-0, McCulley 2-1-0-0, Loecker 1-2-0-0, Hoover 2-0-0-0, Kalkhorst 3-0-1-0, Reiss 0-0-0-0, Saverino 0-0-0-0, K. Reed 2-0-0-0, Reifschneider 2-0-0-0, J. Reed 0-0-0-0.