The Wildcats out hit the Lions but faltered in the fourth inning to lose 8-5 in the regional final.
MOUNDRIDGE — Take away the fourth inning and the Moundridge baseball team is headed to the state tournament. Unfortunately, that is not how baseball works. With a five run bottom of the fourth Leon-Bluestem defeated Moundridge 8-5 to win the regional finals and move on to Great Bend next week for a chance to win a State title.
"In the bottom of the fourth we gave them extra outs and they made us pay with five runs, three of which were unearned," said Moundridge coach Lynn Eichelberger. "We had them guessing for four innings."
The Wildcats jumped on the #1 seeded Lions early, scoring two runs in the first inning and two in the third to lead 4-1 going into that fateful fourth inning. With five runs in their half of the fourth and two more in the bottom of the fifth, Bluestem took the lead for good to earn a trip to state, despite being out hit by Moundridge 12-7. The Wildcats never quit, as they loaded the bases in the seventh inning to give themselves a chance to get back in the game.
"We tried to slow down the pace of the game to keep a good team like Bluestem out of rhythm by checking runners a lot and changing pitchers with a lot of mound visits," Coach Eichelberger said. "We pitched three pitchers and settled on Caleb Frye who was doing the best job."
Frye pitched four and two thirds innings striking out four while walking two.
Noah Eichelberger, Dylan Sugars, Anthony Otte and Peyton Fast all pounded out two hits apiece for the Cats, with Fast picking up two RBIs and Otte one. Chris Leddy, Frye, Bryant Olson and Hunter Emerson each got a hit as well, as eight out of the nine Moundridge starters recorded hits on the afternoon. Senior Ethan Rice didn't record an at bat but saw action, as Coach Eichelberger allowed him one last appearance in front of the home crowd.
"I will miss our seniors and all they did for the program," said Coach Eichelberger, summing things up. "We had a fun and successful season but it will take a few days for the players to get over the disappointment of losing before they remember the good times they had winning sixteen games. Sixteen wins is the most wins we have had in the last ten years or so."
Contact Matt Cole by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MacSentinel.