GREAT BEND The Newton High School baseball team showed glimpses of the season it was hoping to have this season. A couple key hits by Goddard Eisenhower denied the Railers a berth in the state tournament as Newton fell 6-2 Tuesday in the finals of the Class 5A regionals at the Great Bend Sports Complex. Newton had its most complete game in the semifinals, upending second-seeded Great Bend 11-1. Eisenhower, 10-11, advances to the state tournament, which begins Feb. 23 at Eck Stadium in Wichita. "I thought our pitching staff did an outstanding job competing today," Newton coach Mark George said. "Keil (Stauffer) pitched his heart out in game one. Austin Gronau did a good job of mixing up his pitches. Ben Wright did a great job of coming in and taking away some momentum from them. I know it's a clichι in high school sports, but the teams that beat themselves less are the teams that win." Eisenhower upended third-seeded Hays 3-2 in the semifinals, giving the lower-seeded Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League teams, although from different divisions, wins over Western Athletic Conference teams. "I think Hays' coaching staff and Great Bend's coaching staff do great jobs," George said. "We came into tonight, and Eisenhower came in tonight, with a little advantage. We play tougher competition. We're a little more battle tested. We had more scars. If we don't bring our best effort, we get smoked. Scheduling is very important to us." Newton and Eisenhower were scheduled to meet last week, but the game was rained out. "That hurt," George said. "(Assistant coach) Brian (Rickard) and I scouted them in game number one today for a little bit. We knew they were going to put the ball in play. If we knew they were going to bunt as much as they did, we would have spent a little more time in our preparation. The coach there loves to do a lot of runs and bunts." For Eisenhower in the championship game, Sam Hersh went six innings for the win, allowing an earned run on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Trevor Hughe, Jacob Gibson and Levy Hacker each went two for three hitting for the Tigers. Hughes drove in two runs. Bryce Minor also drove in two runs. Gronau took the loss for Newton. Wright and Jacob Fulmer also pitched. In the championship game, Eisenhower loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the third. Eisenhower score three runs on a wild pitch, a ground out and a James Gibson single. "In the third inning, when (Eisenhower) had their big inning with three runs, we didn't cover bunts, or we were not where should have been," George said. "We gave them some extra outs. When you give a team like that extra outs, especially in the part of the order they were in, you're asking for trouble. We still did a good job of responding and shutting them down. We still competed after that, which was a positive." A pair of Newton hits to lead off the top of the fifth, along with a double steal and two errors led to two Newton runs. Three two-out hits in the bottom of the sixth led to three more Eisenhower runs. Newton drew a walk and a hit batter to open the top of the seventh, but after freshman Braden Minor took the mound for the Tigers, a strike out and two pop outs ended the game. Braden Minor got the save. "I apologized to the guys in the sixth inning," George said. "We were playing a guy to pull, and we were shading the opposite way. That's my fault. That's my responsibility to make sure we're in the right positions, so I failed them. That opened the door. If we're where we're supposed to be, that ball's caught by our rangy center fielder." In the top of the first, Keil Stauffer and Gunar Drinnen each doubled to score a run. Newton used four hits in the top of the third to score three more runs. Great Bend left bases loaded in the second and third innings. Newton added three more runs in the fourth inning on a two-run single by Dakota Long and a one-run single by Wyatt Burbrink. Newton scored two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth. With two outs and a runner on in the bottom of the sixth, Bryce Beck singled to center to score a run and prevent the 10-run rule from taking effect. Newton scored a run in the top of the seventh and held Great Bend scoreless in the bottom of the inning. Stauffer went six innings for Newton, allowing five hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Wright pitched the seventh. Beck started and lost for Great Bend, 15-5. Drinnen went four for five hitting for Newton, driving in two runs. Burbrink went three for four with two RBIs. Long went two for three with three RBIs. No Great Bend player had more than one hit. "We played fantastic today," George said. "We competed well. Dakota Long made some great plays at third base today. Gunar Drinnen made some game-changing plays at shortstop. Wyatt Burbrink looked good at the plate. Austin Resser looked good at the plate. Gunar Drinnen looked excellent at the plate in game one. The thing that was exciting for me was, we had runners at first and second, and we hadn't run a fake-bunt steal all year. The call was on, and the guys knew what to do. They were a testament that they have a sense of the game. In the second game, they were trying to run a wheel play when we were on base. Wyatt Burbrink and Nathan Wood did a great job of reading what they were doing and we ended up stealing two bags and scoring two runs. Keil Stauffer came up with a clutch sac fly." Newton ends the season 7-13, dropping a number of close games this season. "We have to hit," George said. "We need to do a better job of hitting. That comes from improving our approach. We need to get more at bats. A lot of our younger hitters need as many at bats as possible this summer. We're athletic enough to play good defense. We're crafty enough on the mound. We've got to hit. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves because we didn't hit." Newton loses seven seniors, with about 11 underclassmen set to return. "I'm extremely proud of this class," George said. "They are a high-class group of individuals. They get it done in the classroom. They get to class on time. They represented themselves well. I'm sad to see them go."
Newton ab r h bi Stauffer p 4 2 1 0 Drinnen ss 5 3 4 2 Stineman dh 3 2 1 0 Porter lf x x x x Resser 1b 3 3 1 1 Gronau cf 4 0 1 1 Long 3b 4 0 2 3 Burbrink 2b 4 0 3 2 Sweely c 2 0 0 0 Palmer c 1 0 0 0 Kingsley rf 2 1 0 0 TOTALS 32 11 13 9 Gr.Bnd. ab r h bi Beck ss 4 0 1 1 Buehler dh 3 0 1 0 Herrman 2b x x x x Conaway 1b 4 0 1 0 Toulsee rf 4 0 0 0 Allende cf 2 0 0 0 Ruiz c 3 0 0 0 Jones 3b 2 0 1 0 Riggs ph 1 0 0 0 Wondra ss 1 0 1 0 Hall p 1 0 0 0 Hofmeister p 0 1 0 0 Reiser lf 1 0 0 0 Johnson ph 1 0 0 0 TOTALS 26 1 5 1
Newton 103 321 1 11 Gr.Bnd. 000 001 0 1
E Drinnen, Herrman, Long. DP Great Bend. LOB New. 10, GB 11. 2B Stauffer, Drinnen, Resser. 3B Drinnen. SB Stineman, Stauffer 2, Kingsley, Hoffmeister. Sac. Bunt Kingsley. Newton
ip h r er bb k Stauffer, W 6 5 1 1 3 5 Wright 1 0 0 0 0 0 Great Bend ip h r er bb k
Beck, L 2.1 7 4 4 0 2 Hall 2.1 3 5 5 2 3 Allende 1.1 2 1 1 3 1 Hoffmeister 1 1 0 0 0 0
Allende faced 2 batters in the seventh inning. WP Stauffer, Allende 2. HBP Reiser (Stauffer), Stauffer (Hall), Resser 2 (Hall, Allende), Kingsley (Hall), Hoffmeister (Stauffer). Time 2:23. Championship game
Newton ab r h bi Stauffer 2b 3 0 0 1 Drinnen ss 4 0 0 0 Stineman rf 3 0 1 0 Resser 1b 3 0 1 0 Gronau cf 3 0 1 0 Long 3b 3 0 0 0 Burbrink dh 2 1 1 0 Porter cf x x x x Sweely c 2 1 1 0 Kingsley lf 2 0 0 0 TOTALS 25 2 5 1 Eisenhower ab r h bi Richardson cf 2 1 0 0 Kuhn ss 4 2 1 0 Hughes c 3 1 2 2 Bry.Minor 3b 4 1 1 2 Gibson rf 3 0 2 1 Dinkel 1b 3 0 0 0 Hacker lf 3 0 2 0 Meyer 2b 2 0 0 0 Kuns dh 2 0 0 0 Jones pr 0 1 0 0 TOTALS 26 6 8 5
Newton 000 020 0 2 Eisenhower 003 003 x 6
E Kuhn, Hughes. DP Eisenhower. LOB New. 6, GE 8. 2B Gibson, Hughes, Bry.Minor. SB Burbrink, Sweely, Drinnen. Sac. Fly Stauffer.
Newton ip h r er bb k Gronau, L 3 4 3 3 3 2 Wright 2.2 4 3 3 1 3 Fulmer .1 0 0 0 0 0 Goddard Eisenhower ip h r er bb k Hersh, W 6 5 2 1 2 5 Bra.Minor, S 1 0 0 0 0 1
Hersh faced 2 batters in the seventh inning. WP Gronau 2, Hersh 2. PB Hughes. HBP Richardson (Gronau), Hughes (Gronau), Burbrink (Hersh). Runner's Int. Dinkel. Time 1:53.