Lansing baseball hopes to sink Seaman
Lansing High first-year baseball coach Troy Andrews knows plenty about baseball at the state tournament. After all, before coming to Lansing he was an assistant at Dodge City for teams that placed first and third in the state.
Andrews also knows when the best baseball is played at state: Friday. That's when the first-round games are played. That's when teams tote out their top pitchers and lay absolutely everything on the line. The scenario is simple: If you lose, you go home. If you win, you come back Saturday to play two more games.
"When you get to the state tournament and that first-round game on Friday, everybody's going to roll out a D-I caliber pitcher," LHS coach Troy Andrews said. "It's just a matter of who's going to score runs on that kid and who's going to make plays on defense.
"Friday's games are really kind of fun to watch. If you're a high school baseball fan, Friday's state tournament is the day to go because you see great baseball. You see great pitching and you see great strategy, You've got to bunt. You've got to move runners. You've got to take advantage of every little thing they give you."
Lansing won its first regional championship since 1995 when it beat Highland Park on May 16 to advance to the Class 5A state tournament. Now the Lions are ready to take part in the Friday frenzy. They open state tournament action at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Topeka against the Seaman Vikings (18-4) at Hummer Sports Park.
Lansing (15-7) has spent spent the entire week honing its skills to face state tournament veteran Seaman. The Vikings likely will send junior righty Jake Hosey to the mound. The Lions will throw ace pitcher Chris Wagner. Wagner threw a no-hitter in the regional final.
The Lions believe they're ready for the challenge, no matter who throws against them. They're just happy to be part of the state experience.
"The last two years, my sophomore and junior years, I had to be the team in the outfield (after regionals) with tears on senior's eyes telling guys you had fun playing with them. I was like 'I'm not doing that. Not yet,'" senior Cody Mohan said. "This is a big goal. It's been our goal. We came up short in league, and we're finally going to state. It's huge to do that as a senior. Especially coming from high school where baseball's not really one of the big sports."
Mohan said it would be important for the Lions to maintain their focus and composure throughout the week and during the game in order to advance at state.
"Everybody's just got to stay locked in and know that it's not given now because every team is going to come out there the first day and we're going to see the team's best pitcher, just like we're throwing Chris," Mohan said. "Everybody's going to come out focused and ready to play baseball. State's not our Kaw Valley League and it's not our regional that we got drawn in. It's the big time."
Senior Jeff Terrill said team chemistry should help the Lions stay focused.
"With the guys we have here, a lot of us broke down last year in regionals, and to come back and win it like this, it's a great feeling to come back and win with the guys we have," he said. "The team we have, there's a lot of chemistry here. A lot of the guys have been playing together for a long time, and it's just good to win with this group."