St. James ends Braves’ baseball season
SHAWNEE — It was a season of progress for the Bonner Springs High School baseball team, but the sting of a season-ending loss still hurt.
The Braves made a three-win improvement from 2010 to 2011, and they advanced deeper in the regional playoffs. Still, a berth in the regional finals and a trip to state eluded them.
Bonner Springs won its Class 4A regional first-round game against Baldwin 7-3 on Monday at Mid-America Baseball Complex. That evening, however, they dropped a 12-2 decision to St. James Academy in six innings.
“I’m proud of them,” BSHS coach Barry Richards said of his squad. “Nine wins … and the first game (at regionals) was great. I’m just proud of them.”
The Braves started strong against Baldwin. They plated four early runs and never relinquished control of the game. In doing so, they earned their first postseason victory in recent memory and advanced to an evening semifinal game against top seed St. James.
The Braves started strong again. Shawn Jones reached base on a fielder’s choice in the top of the first and later scored when Brian Callahan reached base on an error.
Bonner Springs’ 1-0 lead was short-lived, however. St. James received a one-out double from Adam Burns in the bottom of the inning. Burns later scored on a sacrifice fly by Brent Mitchell and tied the game.
BSHS mustered just two base runners during the next four innings against side-arm thrower Burns’ accurate pitching.
In addition, BSHS starter A.J. Gidden struggled to find the strike zone and St. James took advantage.
“A.J. wasn’t himself today,” Richards said. “He had some trouble. His legs were cramping. With a healthy A.J. we could compete, but we ran out of pitching.”
St. James capitalized on a second-inning error to score a run and take a 2-1 lead.
A six-run fourth inning allowed the Thunder to seize full control. They eventually led 10-1 after five innings.
Bonner Springs scored once in the top of the sixth when Gidden reached on an error and later scored on a passed ball, but St. James scored twice in the bottom of the sixth and secured the run-rule victory.
Bonner Springs ends the season with a 9-13 record. The Braves will lose a large senior class. Lucas Porras, Brett Hammons, Austin Epp, Gidden, Dalton Vitt and Callahan all graduate.
“We’re going to miss the seniors,” Richards said. “I don’t know whether some of them can be replaced.”
Richards said all of the Braves’ returners will play three games per week this summer in a league at the 3&2 Baseball Complex as they prepare for next year.