Swing and a miss; Bobcats fall short of state
The Bobcats baseball team picked the wrong time to play its worst game of the season.
After outlasting Mill Valley in the regional semifinals, the Bobcats suffered their worst loss of the season in the championship game against Bishop Ward, Wednesday, May 21. It seemed everything that could go wrong for Basehor-Linwood did as Bishop Ward dominated the Bobcats, 10-0, in six innings.
With six errors and nine runs in the first three innings, head coach Curtis Press said the atmosphere contributed to the Bobcats' demise.
"We had two guys show up to play and the rest of them didn't," Press said. "We were shell shocked. This was the first time these kids had ever been in a championship game, and we got lost in the atmosphere. We couldn't handle the pressure. That's the reality of it. We were mesmerized by the size of the crowd rooting for Bishop Ward."
The defensive miscues early in the game eliminated any chance of a Bobcat victory. Known for its offense, Press never imagined his team would have this type of defensive lapse.
"It's extremely frustrating," Press said. "That's the one thing we work on every day in practice. We knew we had to hit to stay with Bishop Ward, but we thought the defense would take care of itself."
Bishop Ward scored two runs in the first inning after the leadoff hitter reached on an error, and the next batter hit a home run. Senior pitcher Brandon Dye settled down and induced the next three batters into groundouts.
In the next inning, defensive miscues again hurt the Bobcats. Along with two errors, the Bobcats misplayed two slap bunts. Bishop Ward scored five runs in the inning, and though the defense failed to help him, Press took Dye out of the game with one out in the inning.
"I hated to pull Brandon," Press said. "He was doing a decent and sufficient job, but he wasn't going to blow anything by them, so I had to make the move."
Senior Ross McCoy replaced Dye on the mound trailing 5-0, but he received just as little help. Errors helped Bishop Ward score four more runs through the third inning.
While the defense faltered, Basehor-Linwood went scoreless for the first time all year.
The Bobcats' best threat came in the fourth inning when they loaded the bases, but they came up empty. An ominous sign came when senior Chris Maleta led off the inning and broke his bat in half. Bishop Ward's pitcher had to dodge half of the bat as it bounced toward the mound.
Press gave the Bishop Ward pitcher credit for Basehor-Linwood's troubles at the plate.
"Their pitcher was running the ball in on the hands," Press said. "That was their game plan. We couldn't get our arms extended to pound the ball like we usually do. We just didn't adjust."
The loss left a sour taste in the Bobcats' mouth, but Press sees the silver lining.
"You have to sit and realize, this program is 11 years old, and this is the first championship game this team has ever been to," Press said. "That's something to build on."
Bobcats defeat Mill Valley
McCoy was the catalyst for BLHS in the Bobcats semifinal victory against Mill Valley.
McCoy hammered two home runs, one solo and one with senior Jeremy Hampton on, in the game to help Basehor-Linwood to a 5-4 win.
Despite McCoy's heroics, the Bobcats had to use their final at bat to seal the victory.
Tied 4-4 going into the bottom of the seventh, senior Brandon Beebe reached on a fielder's choice. Senior Darren Marx then hit a single to left field, but Mill Valley's left fielder misplayed it, and the ball went to the fence.
The error allowed Beebe to score, and the Bobcats won the game.
The Bobcats won, but Press said he saw the potential of a letdown in the game.
"We showed signs that the pressure would get to us in the Mill Valley game," Press said. "We let their pitcher settle in instead of pounding him. By the fifth inning, he's in a groove, and we're in a tough game. That's what happens when you don't get to a pitcher right away."
Marx scored the other run in the fourth inning when senior Casey Jones hit him in.
Senior Jeremy Sheehan pitched, picking up the win and completing an undefeated season for him.