Baseball team falls in tough regional final game
Tonganoxie finished its season as regional runner-up last Wednesday when it lost a high-scoring battle against state powerhouse Bishop Ward. The score was 10-17.
Bishop Ward is the two-time defending state champion.
It was an outstanding game for our young men, especially the seniors," said coach Chris Herron. "They were in it until the sixth inning."
Even getting to the championship game may seem like a lofty achievement for a team that finished the season 7-13. But the team just got healthy near the end of the season and it was coming off four straight wins. Herron said he knew his team was better than its record but injuries had taken their toll early in the season.
"When the season started, after the first week of practice, I had the outlook that we could be good," Herron said. "We had two strong pitchers and when you have that, you can usually be successful."
Then disaster struck. With injuries to Doug Schneider and other key players, the team was weakened.
"After those injuries," Herron said. "We fell flat on our face for most of the season. It was a real struggle."
But with everyone healed by late season and ready to go in the regional tournament, Herron was finally able to field the team he knew he'd had all season.
And the difference was clear.
After icing Pleasant Ridge in its last doubleheader of the season, the team took its show to the regional tourney, where it stopped Basehor-Linwood cold. The score was 3-1. The pitchers were on fire. The defense was a brick wall, giving up no errors.
In the second game last Wednesday, the Chieftains went up against league rival Lansing, who had beaten them in the regular season.
The defense also was a brick wall in that game until the sixth inning. To that point, Tonganoxie had given up only one hit and committed no errors.
The brick wall began to crumble a little. The Chieftains committed three errors and allowed four hits in that inning.
The score was 4-3 at that point, with Tonganoxie still holding the lead.
Both teams scored two more apiece, and the Chieftains held on to take a one-point victory.
"It's good to watch them win, but it's even better to watch them celebrate," Herron said.
After a short rest, the team took the field against Bishop Ward.
And they were playing with them. The state champs were down at several points to the Chieftains, who came out sizzling on offense. They scored two in the first. By the end of the third, the score was already into double digits, and Tonganoxie was down 11-9.
Bishop Ward them caught fire and showed exactly why they are the two-time defending state champions. The team outscored the Chieftains 6-1 to finish the game.
"We played strong in the tournament," Herron said. "We had good focus and good pitching. Usually that combination wins."
With its two post-season wins, the team finished the year with a record of 9-14.