Chieftains bounce back, sweep Jeff West
Down six runs early in its home opener, the Tonganoxie High baseball team rallied for an 8-7 victory and followed that by blowing out visiting Jeff West, 15-3, in the second game for a twinbill sweep on Tuesday at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds.
The Chieftains trailed, 7-1, after three innings in the first game against the Tigers but plated six in the bottom of the fourth to tie things up.
A bunt single from Dylan Caywood with one out loaded the bases after Tyler Lupton and Dylan Puhr both singled to right field. Lupton scored on a grounder by Ethan Lorance, and with the bases still loaded, Rob Schlicht drew a walk to force in another run.
Down four runs with the heart of the lineup coming to bat, Tonganoxie (4-0) was in good position. Jace Waters singled up the middle to drive in a run and Brandon Yoder popped up what turned into a three-run, game-tying triple when Jeff West’s right fielder lost the ball in the air and didn’t have a chance to make a play on the fly.
THS got the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth when Yoder reached first with an infield single on which Waters dashed home from second base.
After starting pitcher Lorance struggled, Schlicht entered for relief in the top of the fourth and retired five straight batters in an inning and a third of work before injuring his right ankle while backing up a throw to third base.
Caywood came in for the injured Schlicht and went 1 2/3 innings for the victory before Waters closed the game with a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh to earn a save.
The second victory came much easier for the Chieftains thanks to spotty Jeff West pitching — especially during the bottom of second, when THS scored eight runs despite having a solitary hit.
Seven Chieftains were walked in the second frame and one more, Puhr, was hit by a pitch. They had already scored six runs by the time Waters hit a two-run single to right field for the first and only hit of the big inning.
But Tonganoxie bats were a big part of a five-run fourth that led to a mercy-rule victory in the fifth inning.
Jon Harris started things off with a line-drive double over the JWHS left fielder’s head. He eventually scored on an error to give THS an 11-1 lead. Waters drove in two more when he scorched a single down the left-field line. Caywood scored when Blaize Oelschlaeger drew a walk with the bases loaded and Puhr drove in Waters with a groundout to third.
Yoder started the game on the mound for Tonganoxie and took a 15-1 lead into the top of the fifth before he ran into some problems. He walked three in the inning, prompting coach Phil Loomis to turn to Oelschlaeger for the final three outs, which he delivered with two groundouts and a strikeout.
THS travels to Basehor-Linwood on Wednesday for a 4:30 p.m. game.