Six-run fifth spells doom for BLHS
Bobcats fight to the end but fall in first round of regionals
For many Basehor-Linwood baseball players Monday's first-round regional contest against Sumner marked the first time they had played a game of postseason baseball.
In the early innings that showed, as Sumner raced out to a 3-0 lead by scoring one run in the second and two more in the third.
But in the top of the fourth the Bobcats came alive. BLHS pushed a run across the plate to cut the lead to 3-1, and in an instant it looked as if the Bobcats were going to scratch and claw for seven innings to extend their season.
"When we got it back to 3-1 going into the bottom of the fourth, I felt like things were turning for us," BLHS coach David Svoboda said. "Five Sumner hits and three Bobcat errors later, that wasn't the case."
That combination of hits and errors resulted in a six-spot for the Sabres, and after four innings BLHS trailed 9-1.
Down but not out, the Bobcats did their best to mount a comeback.
Starter Josh Ishmael helped his own cause by drilling a two-run homer to left in the fifth. The blast, which traveled 360 feet, drove in Lucas Williamson, who had reached base with a one-out triple. Later in the inning Alex Smith delivered an RBI double, and by the end of the BLHS half of the fifth, the Bobcats had scored four runs and cut the Sumner lead to 9-5.
"Rather than feeling sorry for ourselves, we pulled together and scored four in the top of the fifth to pull back to within four," Svoboda said. "I was really proud of the fight our kids showed. After a big inning like Sumner's fourth, for us to respond in the fifth and sixth offensively says a lot about the heart and desire of our young men."
Sumner extended its lead to 10-5 with a run in its half of the fifth and the Bobcats responded with two more in the top of the sixth to set the final margin at 10-7.
The loss ended the Bobcats' season and dropped their record to 8-13. However despite falling short of where Svoboda had hoped, he was pleased with everything the team accomplished, especially considering the fact that nobody expected the team to be on the same level as last year's squad.
"Though we finished just 8-13 overall and 3-5 in the league, doing what we did with just one returning starter was something I think we can all be proud of, but not satisfied with," Svoboda said. "I told the kids after the game that we must become stronger, faster and more confident if we are going to take the next step in 2005. We have a great nucleus returning with only three players graduating. That's exciting."
Individually, Ishmael led the Bobcats in hitting this season, as he finished with a .480 average for the year. Kyle Speichinger finished with a .476 average and led the team in extra-base hits, with 10, and home runs, with two. Senior Tyler Dowdall hit .438 for the season, and he rounded out the top three.
On the mound, Ishmael was also the Bobcats' staff ace for most of the season, but several arms will return with experience in 2005. Because the team will have so much experience and so many seniors, Ishmael is expecting a big season from himself and his team next year.
"I think personally I can do what I did this year and hopefully a little better," Ishmael said. "And I think our team's going to be great. Our goal is to not only get to state, but to win it."
As for Svoboda's future with the program, he's hoping his team's effort was good enough to get the interim tag removed from the front of his name.
"I'll say what I did at the start of the year," Svoboda said of any possible decision to make him the full-time head coach. "That's a decision that will be made by the right people at the right time. I'd love to be our head coach next year, but what is more important to me is the chance to continue to work with these kids as a coach -- whether as head coach or as an assistant. There's something special just around the corner here, and I want to be with our kids and coaching staff when it happens."