By Alex Hammeke
After having the season opener rained out on Tuesday against the Sunflower Seeds, The Great Bend Bat Cats took care of business this past week, sweeping the five game series against the Seeds. The Bat Cats started off with a 17-2 and 5-0 victories against the Seeds down at Cheney, before opening the home stretch with an 8-5, 6-1 sweep on Friday. The Bat Cats had the most trouble against the Seeds in Saturday’s 9-inning game, but the Bat Cats would pull away in the late innings to secure the sweep with a 12-5 decision.
Great Bend jumps to the top of the standings of the Sunflower Collegiate League, tied with Derby. The Bat Cats take on a Newton Rebels team still searching for their first victory. The series starts at Newton on Monday, before returning to Al Burns Memorial Field on Tuesday.
Wednesday Game 1: Great Bend Bat Cats 17-Sunflower Seeds 2 (7 innings)
Hit batters and Seeds defensive miscues played a major role in the Bat Cats season opener. The Seeds would plunk ten batters in the contest, with six hits driving in the extra baserunners. Great Bend led the contest 4-2 after 2 innings, but broke the game wide open as driving rains entered the Cheney Sports Complex. While rain hammered down at the complex, the Bat Cats poured on the runs, adding nine runs in the third and fourth innings combined.
Zane Spinn led the Bat Cats, as the Shortstop from Temple College went for 2-4 with 2 runs and 3 RBI’s. Brett Freiberg would add three runs for the Bat Cats. Gyeongju Kim started on the home hill for the Cats, and would allow four hits in four innings of work. Kim would strike out five, pitching a perfect inning in the fourth.
Wednesday Game 2: Bat Cats 5-Seeds 0 (7 innings)
The second game was an absolute 180o change, starting out as a pitchers duel between the Bat Cat’s Zach Thornton and the Seeds’ Adam Birch. The Bat Cats would finally break through in the fifth, starting off with a double from Kyle Gates. Great Bend would capitalize on infield errors from the Seeds to score their runs.
Friday Game 1: Bat Cats 8-Seeds 5 (7 innings)
With a large crowd on hand for the home opener doubleheader, the Bat Cats did not disappoint. The Cats would bring four runs across the plate in the fourth inning, powered by the perfect 3-3 plate appearance from Alex Rodgers. Rodgers would also make an impressive defensive play in the fourth inning, throwing out a Seeds baserunner at third on a single.
Rodgers and Zane Spinn both scored two runs for the Bat Cats. Micah Grover, Junior Torres, and Tyler Henry would all score. Reliever Ethan Thomas picked up the win, pitching the middle three innings, only giving up one run on three hits, while striking out four.
Friday Game 2: Bat Cats 6-Seeds 1 (7 innings)
The back half of Friday’s doubleheader had the Bat Cats in the drivers seat from the first pitch. Jake Kuntzendorf would send the Seeds down in order to start the game, and the Bat Cats would score a run in the first three innings. Alex Rodgers would take take a 1-0 pitch all 365 feet to left center to slam the Bat Cat’s first homer of the season. Four batters later, Andrew Enwiya would attempt to go yard, but his long ball fell just short, sending in Zane Spinn on a ground rule double.
Kuntzendorf would grab the win for the Bat Cats, giving up the lone Seeds run in the third inning, while striking out seven of his 19 batters faced. Great Bend native Brayden Smith would finish off the Seeds in his final baseball game, before starting his job in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Striking out the last batter he faced, Smith would not allow a run to score in the final 2 1/3 innings of work.
Saturday: Bat Cats 12-Seeds 5 (9 innings)
Looking to avoid a series sweep, the Seeds started off aggressive, forcing three Bat Cat errors, while scoring two. The Bat Cats would find a response in the first inning, with Alex Rodgers, Zane Spinn, and Micah Grover scoring. The Seeds would take the lead with a two-run moon shot in the second inning, and the Bat Cats would strand the tying run at second base.
The Seeds would hold the 4-3 lead until the fifth inning. Alex Rodgers would quickly work around the bases and score the tying run on a Dylan Blomquist double. A passed ball from the seeds would send Blomquist home for the lead while Zane Spinn was at the plate. The one run lead would quickly snowball when the Sheriff walked up to the plate. Tyler Henry battled with Seeds pitcher Dalton Freund before smashing a 2-1 pitch into orbit off left center field. The three run bomb that scored Micah Grover, JD Ortiz, and Henry would swing the momentum pendulum to the Bat Cats. Great Bend would add four runs in the seventh inning off Seeds defensive miscues to seal the sweep.
The Bat Cats would keep the Seeds quiet in the middle innings through the bullpen. Matt Nedved, Chris Lenocker, and Evans Hendricks struck out six batters, while Lenocker took the victory, striking out three and only allowing one hit in two innings on the bump.