Lansing puts scare into eventual state champs
Four-run lead doesn’t stand at state baseball tourney
Topeka The Lansing High baseball team couldn't have hoped for a better start to its first state tournament appearance since 1995.
The fifth-seed Lions jumped on the fourth-seed Seaman Vikings for four runs in the top of the first inning Friday. The Lions stayed in the lead for 3 1/2 innings before the Vikings stormed back and claimed a 9-4 victory at Hummer Sports Park.
Seaman went on to win the state championship Saturday by beating Bishop Carroll 11-9 in the semifinals and holding off Blue Valley West 7-5 in the finals.
"A couple things go our way and we're sitting on the other end of it," LHS coach Troy Andrews said. "And that's what happens when you get here. You've got eight quality teams, and it's just those little things that win or lose a baseball game right here at this level."
Lansing capitalized on the little things early in the game in taking the lead, but it was the little things later in the game - errors and a lack of timely hitting - that prevented the Lions from holding on and advancing to the semifinals.
In the first, senior centerfielder Mike Bayless earned a leadoff walk and came around to score on senior Cody Mohan's double to left field. Senior pitcher Chris Wagner was hit by a pitch. Senior catcher Jordan Pratt later smashed a deep blast to left field that clipped the outfielder's glove and dropped. The error allowed Mohan and Wagner to score. Pratt then scored on sophomore Johnny Stratton's double to left, putting Lansing ahead 4-0.
"We came out and played well. We really hit the ball," Wagner said of the fast start. "We weren't intimidated by them."
When Wagner took the mound in the bottom of the first, he retired the first two batters he faced. The Vikings proceeded to load the bases, but Wagner worked his way out of the jam with an inning-ending strikeout.
Despite the big first inning, Lansing struggled to get base runners the rest of the game as Seaman junior pitcher Jake Hosey settled down and kept the LHS batters off-balance. Junior Tylor McNeill's fourth-inning single was the Lions' last hit of the game. Meanwhile, the Vikings found their groove. They strung together two walks, a double and two singles in the second inning and plated three runs.
The Vikings put together three straight hits to start the fourth inning. The hits, and the assistance of a Lion error, led to three more runs and gave the Vikings a 6-4 lead.
Wagner admitted he wasn't at his best Friday. Although he struck out four batters, he allowed eight hits.
"I was getting behind hitters, and then having to groove a fastball," he said. "They're too good to be doing that. They jumped all over that."
Seaman added two more runs in the fifth before Mohan replaced Wagner. The Vikings added another insurance run in the sixth.
Of Lansing's five hits, Bayless had two of them. Mohan, Stratton and McNeill had the other hits.
Although the Lions weren't pleased that their season ended without bringing home a trophy, they were proud of their 15-8 record. They also were proud to make a state appearance in Andrews' first year at the helm. Andrews credited his upperclassmen with providing the leadership to make the successful season possible.
"As far as getting here in the first year, you don't think of that happening, but I think the kids played well and played with me. That's the key," Andrews said. "When you step in as a new coach, you've got to have those upperclassmen buy into what you're trying to do in your program. Those kids, especially the seniors, they didn't miss a beat. They were right with me. Whatever I had to do, they were right behind me, and that's key.
"You've got to have the kids, you've got to have the parents and you've got to have the community buy into your program. If they back you, you can do this every year," Andrews added. "And I'd like to do this every year."