THS baseball splits with Cyclones
Thursday at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds, the Tonganoxie High baseball team opened its season against one of the top teams in the state. For all but one inning, it showed why players and coaches have high expectations for the coming months.
The Chieftains split a Kaw Valley League doubleheader with Bishop Ward, the top-ranked team in Class 4A-II. They dropped a 9-4 decision in the opener, but bounced back for a 10-2 win in the nightcap.
"I think we've got to raise their level of expectation to where my level of expectation is," coach Mitch Loomis said. "We expected to win two tonight, and if you take away the first inning of the first game, we're right there. We were really a lot better than they were the last 13 innings."
Justin Wagner started the first game on the mound, and the Cyclones got to the THS junior early. Wagner opened the game with a strikeout, but the next six hitters reached base and came around to score. Ward later added one more for a 7-0 lead before the Chieftains got out of the inning.
THS got three back in the bottom of the frame when Brady Swedo scored on an error, Travis Woods drove in Connor Wentz-Hall and Colten Weaver scored on a sacrifice fly by Wagner. Neither team scored again until Ward added two runs in the sixth.
The Chieftains, who managed just five hits — four of them singles — got one more run when Shane Levy scored in the seventh, but couldn't get any closer.
Tyler Novotney was solid in a relief effort, allowing just two runs on three hits in five innings of work.
Woods, who went undefeated against KVL teams last season, got the start in the second game. He faced the minimum in the opening frame and got a one-run cushion in the bottom of the inning when Swedo scored on a fielder's choice by Levy.
Ward briefly tied the game in the second, but THS erupted for five runs to go back in front in the third. Swedo, Wentz-Hall, Levy, Woods and Billy Kelley scored in the inning, in which the Chieftains sent 10 hitters to the plate. Wentz-Hall, Woods and Kelley each had an RBI during the surge.
The five-run advantage proved to be more than enough for Woods, but the senior further helped his case with a two-run double in the fourth. Kelley then drove in Woods to make it 9-1.
The teams traded a run in the fifth to cap off scoring. Woods allowed just one hitter to reach base in the last two innings, and Wentz-Hall, Swedo and Wagner hooked up to end the game with a 4-6-3 double play — their third twin killing of the game.
"Those guys up the middle, they're guys we expect that stuff from," Loomis said. "They've been doing it for three years now. We hope, with the guys around them, we can build. A lot of those guys did some really nice things. If they do the little things right, the other guys will take care of the rest."
In addition to his three-hit, three-RBI effort, Woods got the win on the hill. He went the distance, giving up six hits while striking out six and walking just one.
The Chieftains will face another ranked team when they travel Tuesday to Meriden for a doubleheader against Jeff West. The Tigers are currently No. 9 in the 4A-II poll.
BWHS 700 002 0 — 9
THS 300 000 1 — 4
Leading hitters: Travis Woods 1-3, RBI; Justin Wagner 1-3, RBI.
BWHS 010 010 0 — 2
THS 105 310 X — 10
Leading hitters: Brady Swedo 1-3, 3B, 2 R; Colten Weaver 1-2, 2 R; Shane Levy 1-2, RBI, 2 R; Travis Woods 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R; Billy Kelley 2-2, 2 RBI, R.