Bobcat baseball splits in Vestal’s reunion with PHS
Even after splitting a home doubleheader Thursday against Piper — effectively ending a four-game losing streak — Basehor-Linwood baseball coach Jeff Vestal had few positive remarks about the Bobcats' performance against his former team.
BLHS rallied to win the first game, 7-6, then struggled in an 11-5 loss to the Pirates in the nightcap on its home field.
"We should have lost them both. We have no heart and no drive," said Vestal, who arrived at BLHS this season after five years at Piper. "Their record doesn't show their talent. They're going to be a team to be reckoned with come regionals."
Piper (3-8, 1-4 Kaw Valley League) struck first with single runs in the first and second innings of the opener, but the Bobcats (5-7, 4-5) took their first lead of the game with a three-run third. Brock Gilliam drove in Dane Quigley on an RBI single, then Jake Hahn and Gilliam scored on sacrifice flies by Ashton Findley and Avery Fliger, respectively.
The lead was short-lived, as the Pirates answered with three of their own in the top of the fifth, but BLHS tacked on two more in the bottom of the frame to force a 5-5 tie. Bryan Crowe scored on a groundout by Quigley, then Hahn singled home Andrew Magana.
PHS went back in front on a solo home run by Colton Beebe in the sixth, but once again, the Bobcats found an answer in the home half of the inning. Magana and Quigley both scored on a throwing error at the plate, and Piper failed to score again in the top of the seventh.
Fliger got the win on the mound, giving up just five hits while striking out four and walking two in a complete-game effort. BLHS managed just three singles, but drew four walks and had four hit batters. Each team also committed four errors.
Both teams struggled for offense early in the second game, as they entered the fourth inning tied at 1-1. Piper took control from there, though, reeling off six runs to chase Bobcat starter Findley. The Pirates made it 8-1 with a run off reliever Jesse Smallwood in the sixth, but BLHS got the run back when Dalton Inlow scored on an error.
The Pirates scored three more in the seventh to go in front by nine, but the Bobcats went down swinging, scoring three of their own in the bottom of the inning. Hahn, Gilliam and Findley each scored before PHS pitcher Tanner Eikenbary slammed the door.
Eikenbary went the distance, racking up eight strikeouts while limiting BLHS to five hits.
"We were flat. We have no love of the game," Vestal said. "You've got to love the game and show up every day. The kids don't take it hard when we get beat, and that might be partly my fault. I told them, if they give me everything they've got, they have no reason to hang their heads. I don't feel I got everything they had."
All three of Piper's wins have come against potential regional opponents, as the Pirates also swept Atchison on Tuesday. BLHS is 1-2 against the regional field, which also includes Tonganoxie.
Vestal's squad will continue league play with three single games next week. They'll host Bishop Ward on Monday, play the Cyclones on Wednesday on the road, then host Tonganoxie on Saturday.
PHS 110 301 0 — 6
BLHS 003 202 X — 7
PHS 010 601 3 — 11
BLHS 001 001 3 — 5