WINFIELD — McPherson High’s baseball team is the AVCTL Division III champion, thanks to a little help from El Dorado.
The Bullpups were stunned 7-2 in Game 1 on Thursday by last-place Winfield and were trailing Game 2 4-2 when they finally gathered themselves with four runs in the seventh inning for a 6-4 come-from behind thriller.
And with El Dorado’s 9-0 second-game victory over Buhler on Thursday, the Bullpups captured the league title with a 7-3 record.
“Extremely excited to win the AVCTL-DIV III as in my opinion it is one of the better 4A leagues in the state of Kansas that included three teams in top of state a year ago,” MHS coach Heath Gerstner said. “However, that is not what this team set out to accomplish and these kids care so much about this program and are excited about the future."
The Bullpups finished the regular season with a 15-5 record. They will host a regional on May 17 that includes Buhler, Hays and Ulysses.
“We need to first credit Winfield and their coaching staff,” Gerstner said. “I thought their kids were more ready to play than our kids. I thought Winfield had us on the ropes for 13 of 14 total innings and our guys’ will to never give up allowed us to come back and get the second win after basically trailing all night."
Once again, the MHS bats were rather sleepy, but pitching was a key.
“I thought Alex Kalkhorst and Marcus McDaniel both pitched extremely well,” Gerstner said. “They both had multiple pitches working and really got a lot of ground balls for our defense. We believe we have a great pitching staff and can play great defense, which has seemed to give us a chance to win every single night this season, but when our defense does not come to play it is tough."
In Game 1, it was tied 2-2 heading into the fourth when Winfield scored three runs. MHS had three errors in the field and only four hits at the plate. Jacob Loecker had two of the four MHS hits, which were all singles.
Kalkhorst took the loss, though only four of the runs he allowed were earned.
In Game 2, the Bullpups again flailed at the plate with just five hits, one each by five players and Dylan Werries and Kolby Reed both drove in two runs. McDaniel was the winner, with Jack Reifschneider nailing it down.
Meanwhile, the MHS JVs had no offensive troubles in routing the Vikings, 21-1 and 10-2, to finish the year with a splendid 16-4 record.
An 11-run fourth inning keyed the first-game victory. Big games were turned in by Alex Sitts (3 for 5, three runs, two RBIs), Gunnar Reiss (two hits, two runs, two RBIs), Zane Myers (three runs, two hits), Trey Hanken (four RBIs, three hits, two runs) and Paxton Leaf (two RBIs).
Gabe Hoover was the winning pitcher.
Game 2 was more of the same. Koby Kerr fanned seven in three innings, then Honestee Whittker struck out three more in two innings. Hitting leaders were Myers (two hits, two runs), Whittker (two hits, two runs), Tyler Wheat (two hits, three RBIs), Shane Starkel (two RBIs), Leaf (two RBIs) and Chandler Wiard (two hits).
• Game 1 •
MHS (2) — McDaniel 3-0-1-0, Werries 1-1-1-1, McCulley 3-0-0-0, Loecker 3-0-2-1, Hoover 3-0-0-0, Kalkhorst 2-0-0-0, K. Reed 2-0-0-0, Saverino 3-0-0-0, Reifschenider 2-1-0-0.
• Game 2 •
MHS (6) — McDaniel 2-1-0-0, Werries 3-1-1-2, Loecker 4-1-1-1, Hoover 4-1-1-0, McCulley 1-1-1-0, Kalkhorst 3-0-1-1, K. Reed 2-0-0-2, Reiss 3-0-0-0, Saverino 0-0-0-0, Reifschneider 3-1-0-0, J. Reed 0-0-0-0.