Big in ‘06: LHS baseball snaps postseason drought
Kansas City, Kan. Chris Wagner finally got his win.
After being the losing pitcher during the regional championship game each of the last two years, Wagner, a senior, made sure it wouldn't happen again.
Wagner left no doubt he would get his regional victory Tuesday, May 16. The Lansing High senior struck out nine and threw a no-hitter against Highland Park. The 13-1 victory earned Lansing a spot in the Class 5A state tournament.
"I didn't care about how many hits they got," said a smiling Wagner. "I just wanted the win."
The state tournament berth was Lansing's first since 1995.
Everything fell into place for LHS at regionals. First, No. 7-seed Highland Park upset No. 2-seed Turner 10-1 in the first regional semifinal game.
Then, No. 3-seed Lansing endured a bit of a scare as it squeaked past No. 6-seed Washington, 6-2, to advance to the finals. The game was tied 2-2 entering the bottom of the sixth, but timely hits from Wagner, sophomore Johnny Stratton and seniors Mike Bayless and Cody Mohan blew the game open. After that, Mohan put the game away.
"(Cody) said coming into the dugout in the bottom of the sixth, 'Just give me one run. That's all we'll need,'" LHS coach Troy Andrews said. "We got a couple more than that, but that's the kind of attitude you need. You need somebody that says 'Hey, get us one run. I'll shut 'em down, and we'll go on to the next game.'"
Wagner said the close call against Washington was good for Lansing - the Lions wouldn't take the Scots for granted.
"It made everybody focus knowing that any team can beat us," Wagner said. "It really got us focused. That's the best we've come out all year."
In the finals against Highland Park, the Lions erupted. Wagner walked the first batter of the game, but he retired the next three in order. When the Lions came to bat in the bottom of the first, they wasted no time seizing control.
Bayless led off with a single. Wagner reached on an error. Senior Jeff Terrill reached on an error and Bayless scored. Junior Kyle Miller ripped a single. Senior Jordan Pratt smashed a two-run single. Tylor McNeill capped the inning with a sacrifice fly that plated Miller and put the Lions on top 4-0.
Lansing stretched the lead to 6-0 in the second inning and Highland Park took advantage of a throwing error and a wild pitch to generate an unearned run in the third inning. Lansing slugged right back with four more runs in the bottom of the inning.
The Lions' offense took care of the rest and sealed the run-rule victory.
Ten days after winning the regional title, Lansing dropped a 9-4 decision to Topeka Seaman in the first round of the state tournament at Hummer Sports Park in Topeka. Seaman went on to win the state title.