Braves snap Bobcats’ Kauffman winning streak
Even with all the inviting open green space at Kauffman Stadium the Basehor-Linwood Bobcats had trouble getting the ball to drop in against Josh Palcher on Saturday. The Bonner Springs right-hander pitched five-plus quality innings and got plenty of support both offensively and defensively, as the Braves won the Frank White Classic 7-2.
The victory snapped Basehor-Linwood's three-year winning streak at the K and provided BSHS with its first win there. The opportunity to deal Basehor its first Kauffman loss provided plenty of extra motivation for the heavily-favored Braves.
"We knew we wanted to come in here and beat them, and beat them bad, too," Palcher said.
Palcher did his part to make it happen, pitching five shutout innings before running into trouble in the sixth. The Bobcats hit a lot of balls hard against him, but were stymied time and again by the Braves, who made all the plays defensively.
"I felt like I saw the ball well and hit it hard," said Brett Miles, the Bobcats' center fielder. "But one thing we did that they didn't do was hit it right at them."
Miles was robbed of extra bases in the bottom of the fourth inning when Braves right fielder Tyler Jock sprinted into the gap and made a leaping grab of his screaming line drive. It was the highlight play of the game in the field and helped the Braves hold on to the 2-0 lead they had taken in the second inning.
Shortly after his catch, Jock provided some offensive fireworks as well, leading off the fifth with a triple to deep left. Jock then scored on a sacrifice fly by Redlin to give the Braves three runs, which were all they would really need.
The Braves piled on some more in the sixth, though, taking advantage of some defensive breakdowns by Basehor-Linwood. They chased BLHS starter Cody McCoy with a four-run inning that included two hits and three BLHS errors. All four runs came in with two outs in the inning.
Basehor-Linwood got two hits apiece from Matt Fanning and Augie Pierce, but couldn't climb out of the 7-0 hole. They finally touched up Palcher in the sixth, getting two runs on three hits, including an RBI single by Zach Lowe. The rally ruined Palcher's shutout bid and forced Bonner Springs' coach Rick Moulin to go to his bullpen for Jeff Hern, who had beaten the Bobcats earlier in the week.
"Josh threw a great game, but I could tell he was starting to get tired, starting to leave his pitches up," Moulin said. "We had Hern available, he's our ace and we just wanted to finish the game."
Hern did exactly that, getting a ground ball and a pickoff to end the Bobcats' sixth-inning rally and retiring them in order in the seventh. He and Palcher combined to hold the Bobcats to seven hits. Despite getting just two runs, BLHS coach David Svoboda was encouraged by how hard his team hit the ball.
"We had seven hits and we probably could have had 12," Svoboda said. "The last couple days we have really swung the bats well. Augie swung the bat really well in this ballgame and Matt Fanning also had a couple nice hits. But, the fact remains, you just can't play defense like we did in this game. We're better than that defensively."
Indeed, at the end of the game the scoreboard showed four BLHS errors, compared to just one for Bonner Springs. Although the Braves hadn't played at Kauffman last year like the Bobcats had, they didn't seem affected by the heady atmosphere at all.
For the Bobcats, who had the misfortune of being on the other end of Bonner's strong defense, the game marked the end of their dominance at the K.
There was a silver lining to the week in the win-loss column for the Bobcats as well, as they split with Turner on Friday at Community America Ballpark.
After losing to the Bears 12-0 in the first game, Svoboda handed the ball to freshman Justin Gripka, who led a young lineup to victory. Gripka pitched five shutout innings against a Turner offense that looked unstoppable just hours earlier.
The freshman ran into trouble after getting two outs in the fifth, but got a save from Alex Smith, who came on in relief and preserved the 2-1 BLHS lead. The Bobcats added three insurance runs in the seventh and won 5-2.