TOPEKA – Leavenworth had the arms, but Shawnee Mission had the oomph.
The Pioneers were once again denied a Class 5A state tournament berth as the Heights Thunderbirds held their guests to three hits in a 3-0 regional final win.
Senior Pioneer ace Collin Jones went five innings for the third-seeded LVHS squad (13-9) and struck out six in the defeat.
“Collin Jones pitched his heart out,” LVHS head coach Joe Allison said. “Can't beat anyone with just three hits. Heights was really good, I tip my hat to them and their pitcher. We had our opportunities with baserunners in the first and last inning and didn't capitalize. We will keep working and refocus.
“I am super proud of our seniors and their effort the last four years. They will be missed.”
To advance to the final, Leavenworth rolled past Sumner Academy, 8-3, thanks in large part to pitcher Griffin Hancock who one-hit the Sabres through the first five innings.
Offensively, Steele Sadler knocked out a triple and Collin Jones, Dalton Watkins and Chace Burns all recorded doubles to push LVHS to a 6-0 lead after four at-bats.
Hancock was lifted when he walked the bases loaded with the help of a fielder's choice in the top of the sixth. He would be replaced with one out holding a 6-3 lead.
“Griffin started out great,” Allison said. “He walked a couple of them, but he hasn't thrown that many pitches all season so that might be part of the reason.
“The pitching that I saw wasn't that bad ... he came out for Sumner and competed. Their boys battled. It was a good first game for us as far as getting our feet wet and getting going.”
Freshman Eric Harding came in to relieve Hancock and struck out the next two batters to grant the Pioneers safe passage to the bottom half of the frame leading by four runs.
Dylan McLain wrapped up the save by pitching the seventh for the Pioneers.
“I just knew that I had to come in and throw strikes for the team, that's all I needed to do,” Hancock said. “They really need us to step in the games that (Jones and Josh Lucas) don't need to pitch and throw strikes for them and get them ready for the big games.”
Lansing battles in defeat
The Lansing Lions were on the verge of a rally to capture a Class 5A state berth, but the hosts Topeka Seaman were up to the challenge on Tuesday.
Top-seeded Seaman came up big when it mattered and warded off Lansing, 7-3, in a regional final game and deny Lansing a trip to Wichita.
Dryden Dalbey hit a two-run homer for Lansing (11-10) who also got a strong starting effort by Josh Robinson.
“It was definitely a tough game,” Robinson said. “I want to thank all the guys that have gotten us to this point. Going further, our culture now is to get to this point, but we haven't broken through. In the future we will.
“I am extremely happy with our body of work. We fought our tail off to win eight straight games and win the KVL championship. That's something I will always remember. This isn't how I wanted this to end, but it's a building block for the program.”
Lansing trailed 3-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth frame and the host Vikings padded their advantage with their final, four runs.
It wasn't an easy route to the final, as the Lions left it late and rallied from a big deficit to record a walk off win, 7-6 over No. 5 Kansas City Washington in a semifinal earlier in the day.
The Lions battled to a 1-1 tie through the first four innings, but the tide turned in the top of the fifth inning when the Wildcats rang up five runs with two outs to go up 6-1.
Blaise Bell started and was pulled after the fourth inning, giving up three hits and no earned runs.
Lansing got one back in the next frame, but had an opportunity to put more on the board to no avail.
They did cut the deficit in half in the next inning, scoring two runs despite not getting a hit, to trail 6-4 heading to the seventh frame.
The Lions kept that distance heading into the bottom of the seventh frame and got runners on first and second bases with one out thanks to two walks and ultimately found themselves down a man when the lead runner got picked off attempting to steal third.
With two outs and first and second bases occupied, the Lions were down to their last at bat and stayed alive with a walk that loaded the bases.
Dakota Sill then singled and thanks to a Washington error in centerfield tied the game at 6-6.
Claye Howard's bloop, pop up single would wrap the rally and send the Lions to the final.
Basehor boys on to Salina
Zach McKnight had two hits and two RBI and Cale Povolonis pitched five innings and struck out six as the No. 3 seeded Basehor-Linwood Bobcats booked their passage to the Class 4A-I state tournament in Salina with a 6-4 win at No. 1 seed Atchison in regional championship action on Monday.
BLHS (10-11) led 5-0 late before Atchison (17-5) twice to within two runs before falling.
The Bobcats finished with five hits and three errors.
Earlier in the day, the Bobcats beat No. 2 Piper, 9-6, building an 8-0 lead after four innings before the Pirates made things interesting.
Jacob Markovich and Tucker Johnson finished with a Bobcat-high, three hits apiece while McKnight drove in three runs.
The Bobcats now await the announced bracket at the state finals at Salina-Dean Evans Stadium which are set for next week, May 25-26.
“Well, I wouldn't say we took the easiest route to get to this point,” BLHS head coach Andrew See said. “Starting off 1-6 and now punching a ticket to Salina for 4A-1 State is something special. These kids just embraced it. They were completely all-in from pitch one of our first game. Our energy never wavered and we didn't have long spurts of lost focus. I am just so happy for our six seniors as they are going to be making their first trip to state and the first for the program since 2010.”