Halstead, Hesston split baseball opener

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Halstead sophomore Chandler Drake throws during play Tuesday against Hesston in Central Kansas League play in Hesston.
Halstead sophomore Adler Davison takes a pitch during play Tuesday against Hesston. The Dragons split their season opener.
Hesston baseball player Brett Cox awaits a pitch during play Tuesday against Halstead.
Hesston High School baseball player Cody Wohlgemuth fields a play during games Tuesday against Halstead. The Swathers split their season opener.

HESSTON — Central Kansas League rivals Hesston and Halstead marked their return to the baseball diamond for the first time since 2019 with a twinbill split at the Hesston High School field.

Halstead won the first game 5-3, while Hesston won the second game 10-7.

“I saw a lot of good things today, a lot of things to be positive about,” Halstead coach Danny Driskill said. “We have some things we need to work on. … We’ve only been inside once. The spring sports are kind of different. They give us 3 1/2 weeks to get ready and you play for a month and a half. Then it’s over. We’ve got guys aren’t ready to throw a full game yet, but for the most part, we had a good pre-season.”

“In game one, we’re very young right now starting three freshmen and two sophomores,” Hesston coach Skylar Hill said. “They didn’t get a chance to get experience last year. In game one, we were a little wide eyed. That big inning in the fifth came back to bite us. We did a good job of trying to come back. In game two, we did a lot better. We did a lot more of what we asked them to. We put a lot more balls in play. We ran the bases better. We got some bunts. It’s a young team. It will be growth. We will try to play our best ball by regionals.”

The 2020 season was canceled because of COVID-19, but players were able to play summer ball last year.

“Our league played 16 games and we had a tournament,” Driskill said. “We finished second in that. We had good summer. We went 13-3. We only lost three seniors last year. We lost pitching. We want to make the state tournament.”

“We had two guys who played varsity for us two years ago,” Hill said. “… We played summer. We played about 25 games last summer. It isn’t high school varsity baseball. It isn’t quite the feel. It’s hard to simulate that.”

In the first game, Halstead scored five runs in the fifth inning. Hesston scored three runs in the sixth.

Chandler Drake went the distance for Halstead, allowing no earned runs on three hits with a walk and 12 strikeouts. Brady Cox three five innings for Hesston in the loss, striking out eight and allowing two earned runs on five hits with three walks. Kael Shelite finished the game for Hesston, striking out three.

Caleb Wise and Jackson Swift each drove in two runs for Halstead.

Beau Warden went two for three hitting for Hesston with an RBI.

In the second game, Hesston led 9-4 after three innings. Halstead added a pair of runs in the fifth inning and a run in the seventh. Hesston added a run in the sixth inning.

Owen O’Halloran pitched five innings for Hesston for the win, striking out three and allowing one earned run. Brett Cox struck out three in two innings for the save.

Carson Considine took the loss for Halstead. Kaleb Wise struck out eight batters in four innings.

Warden and Kael Shelite each drove in two runs for Hesston.

Carter Hiebert drove in two runs for the Halstead. Kaden Hill went three for four, driving in a run.

Hesston plays at 2 p.m. Thursday against Wichita Independent and Chaparral at Wichita’s Eck Stadium. Halstead hosts Haven Tuesday.

First game

Halstead;000;050;0;—;5;5;3

Hesston;000;003;0;—;3;3;2

Drake (W) and Mueller; Bra.Cox (L), Shelite 6 and Rhodes.

Second game

Halstead;301;020;1;—;7;5;6

Hesston;333;001;x;—;10;8;5

Considine (L), Wise 3 and Radke; O’Halloran (W), Bre.Cox (S) 6 and Rhodes.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com