KC Varsity Post 199 takes second at state tournament
As Rick Bryan stood in the Kansas City Varsity Post 199 dugout, he couldn’t help but think he’d seen this before.
Eight years ago, Bryan, an assistant coach with Post 199, watched his older son Derek play in the American Legion Class A state tournament and advance to the finals before dropping a heartbreaker to Salina at Soden’s Grove in Emporia. That team included local standouts such as Piper’s Daniel Rezin and Basehor’s Jeremy Sheehan.
Now it was Tuesday, July 28, and Bryan’s son Destry was in the state finals at Soden’s Grove with Post 199. BLHS teammates Nathan Quigley and Jared Patton also were on the roster. All three had delivered solid performances at the state tournament and helped their team reach the finals.
Post 199 held a two-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, but in a matter of minutes that lead disappeared. Manhattan rallied for three runs and claimed a 4-3 victory, sending the Basehor players and their Piper teammates home with a second-place finish.
“We ended up getting second at state in the exact same (class and age division),” said Bryan about the team’s 4-3 loss in the state finals. “I thought we had it this time, but at least it’s better than a bad call beating you or an error. It’s the other team beating you by making things happen.”
Post 199 made a dramatic run through the tournament, fending off a stiff challenge by the Lansing Reds in the first round, 6-5, and then toppling Ottawa, 12-2, in the second round. Up next was the first of three matchups with Manhattan, and a shell-shocked Post 199 fell behind early and was run-spread, 14-3.
Post 199 regrouped on Monday, July 27, hammering Dodge City by an 11-3 score and earning a rematch with Manhattan in the finals of the double-elimination tournament. As a result of the earlier loss a then-unbeaten Manhattan squad, Post 199 needed to win two in a row to capture the state title.
They took care of the first victory Monday afternoon, erupting for five early runs along the way to an 8-0 victory.
Patton, who pitched Post 199 to its first-round victory against Lansing, was back on the mound instead of in his usual position of catcher. He proved to be as reliable on the mound as he was behind the plate.
“When it came down to the game against Manhattan and we had to win, we went with him again, and he threw five innings and gave up three hits. You can’t do any better than that,” Rick Bryan said.
Destry Bryan smacked a double that brought home the first of Post 199’s five first-inning runs. A mixture of hits, errors and smart base running contributed to the early onslaught.
Post 199 tacked on three more runs in the fifth inning. Patton walked and scored, and Quigley pounded a run-scoring double during the inning.
After a good night’s sleep, the two teams squared off one more time for the championship. Unlike the previous two thrashings, this one went down to the wire with the bulk of the action taking place in the final inning.
Post 199 pitcher Brian Rezin allowed one run in the first inning, but he was nearly flawless during the five innings that followed and kept Manhattan from getting on the board again.
Post 199 had a few opportunities during the early innings to tie the game or take a lead, but they were unable to score. Finally, Destry Bryan came through with a base hit up the middle that allowed the tying run to score. Post 199 then strung together three singles and a sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh and pushed across two more runs, the second of which was scored by Bryan.
Given the game’s lack of offense, it looked like the 3-1 lead would hold up. Post 199 brought Patton in to relieve Rezin in the bottom of the sixth, and he stayed on to throw the seventh inning, as well.
Patton appeared to have the same effective stuff as he’d had the day before, but this time Manhattan hit the ball just right — just soft enough, really — to be successful. The No. 8 and No. 9 hitters dinked in hits just out of the reach of Post 199 players’ gloves. That brought the top of the order to the plate, but Patton struck out the next batter for the first out. The next batter drew two strikes before blooping in a hit that brought home a run. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, the cleanup hitter laced a base hit up the middle that scored two runs and ended the game, 4-3.
“We got one, but we just could not get the last two outs,” Rick Bryan said. “You wonder what would’ve happened (if we’d done things a little differently), but we wouldn’t have played it any different if we’d played it over again.
“You might not get back to the state tournament, so you’ve got to seize the opportunity while it’s there. But we didn’t give it to ‘em. They seized it in the end, and that’s the way it was.”
Post 199 ended the summer with a 34-8 record. Many of those victories came against older teams with more experienced players. Bryan said he was pleased with the improvement of the team throughout the season, and he said the success of the combined squad of Basehor and Piper players was an indication of how tough the Kaw Valley League would be next year.
“Our league ought to be loaded,” he said. “There’s some kids out there that can play ball in the area.
“Piper started slow last year but really picked it up and would’ve finished about .500 if Santa Fe Trail hadn’t canceled on them. Piper’s going to be good. Basehor’s going to be good this year. Expectations have got to be really high. Lansing’s going to be tough. They’ve been to state the last two or three years. They’ve got kids over there that can play ball. We’ve got some talent in the Kaw Valley Leagues. There are teams that are going to be considered favorites (traditional powers Bishop Ward and Turner), but there’s a lot of teams with talented players. It’s not just going to be Ward and everybody else. It’s going to be tough.”