Tonganoxie tough at Butch Foster Memorial Baseball Classic, reaches title game for first time in school history
Kansas City, Kan. Tonganoxie High has participated in the Butch Foster Memorial Classic for several years.
It’s been a chance for THS to play in an actual stadium, as the tournament always takes place down the road at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan.
The Chieftains historically have done OK at the event, a victory here or there, but never a big tournament run.
This year, THS was a No. 8 seed at 1-8 entering the tournament, so on paper THS wasn’t a favorite.
That mattered little once the Chieftains took the field this year.
Tonganoxie upset Perry-Lecompton, 10-6, before knocking off Spring Hill, 10-9, in a thriller.
Advancing to its first Butch Foster Classic championship in school history, Tonganoxie had a 6-0 lead on Paola, but the Chieftains couldn’t hold on. The Panthers won the tournament Friday night with a 13-6 victory.
THS coach Mitch Loomis said his staff has preached to his team about continuing to get better so the team can be at its best when regionals arrive later this month.
The choir was tuned in at the tournament.
Thursday’s game against PLHS set the tone for Tonganoxie. Because of impending weather Saturday, organizers altered the schedule so the event would conclude Friday.
That meant THS was playing its semifinal game at 9 a.m. Friday against Spring Hill.
The Broncos built a 7-0 lead and appeared more than capable of ruining Tonganoxie’s Cinderella run. But it was far from the clock striking midnight.
Tonganoxie put up two runs in the third inning and another in the fourth.
Then came rally time, a six-run fifth inning that tied the game at nine.
Spring Hill added a run in the top of the fourth, but THS took advantage of two Bronco miscues and showed patience at the plate, forcing a couple walks and reaching twice after batters were hit by pitches.
Junior Chandler Hamman got a hit in that crucial inning amidst the walks and hit batters.
Four batters later, senior Logan Woods sent a ball over the left-fielder’s head that sparked the rally even more. Woods eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Asked about his team’s patience at the plate drawing walks and getting the right pitches to hit, Loomis smiled and said that was the first time this year his team really showed patience at the plate.
Though Tonganoxie was doing a number of things right against Spring Hill as the game progressed, the thrilling contest wasn’t without controversy.
The Chieftains caught a runner trying to steal second in a rundown, but the SHHS coach stormed across the field from the third-base box pleading his case the Chieftains never tagged his runner. The umpires eventually reversed the call and a run scored on the play. Later in the game, Tonganoxie senior Braden Jones attempted to bunt. The Broncos picked the ball up, claiming it had already rolled foul, but the home plate umpire said the ball was touched while it was on the line and THS had a second runner aboard with no out in the bottom of the sixth. THS held Spring Hill scoreless in the seventh and preserved the 10-9 victory.
Paola 13, THS 6
On a foggy, dreary and cold night Friday at the ballpark, Tonganoxie players warmed up their loyal fans with a big inning early.
After five walks, two hit batters, a stolen base and a wild pitch in the second inning, Tonganoxie had built a 6-1 lead.
Unfortunately for THS, it couldn’t manufacture anymore runs.
The Panthers settled down on the mound, while the Chieftains couldn’t quite keep up. Senior Cody Knight had some trouble with location and, coupled with two errors on one play that helped spark a four-run third, Paola got back in the game.
Even though he walked five and hit two more that inning, Knight also struck out the side that inning.
He had 94 pitches after three innings. After walking the leadoff batter in the fourth, Loomis brought in junior Trey Hampton, who held his own, but the Panthers continued to find ways to score.
Paola’s lone scoreless inning was the second inning. Interestingly enough, despite all the early scoring, a Paola triple in the top of the fifth was the first hit of the night.
THS couldn’t keep up and eventually lost, 13-6, in a game that lasted until nearly midnight.
Tonganoxie fell to 3-9 with the championship loss, while Paola improved to 10-4. Bonner Springs (11-5) beat Spring Hill (8-7), 3-2 for third place, Basehor-Linwood (6-8) beat Baldwin (6-7), 4-2, for fifth and Holton (2-10) beat Perry-Lecompton (7-5), 5-3, for seventh.
Logan Woods, Braden Jones and Austin Fisher all were named to the all-tournament team.
THS and Paola had the most tournament selections with three each.