HAYS — It was the bottom of the seventh inning, zero outs and the bases were loaded.
The McPherson High School baseball team and had an opportunity to either tie the game or go an extra inning. It it wasn't meant to be.
The Bullpups suffered a heartbreaking loss Buhler High School in Class 4A-DI regionals at Hays High School.
The rival teams were expected to face off in postseason play after the Bullpups steamrolled Ulysses High School in the semifinals and the Crusaders outlasted Hays 1-0.
McPherson and Buhler were neck-and-neck after the Bullpups scored four straight runs to tie the game at 5-5.
"What else do you want in a regional finals to have a chance to win and get a chance to go to State," Bullpups head coach Heath Gerstner said after the game.
Everything went the Crusader's way in the first four innings. Dylan Werries got to start on the mound for the Bullpups. Werries struggled early on in the top of the first after giving up two singles.
An error committed by McPherson led to the Crusaders to score.
The Bullpups finally scored a run off Gunnar Reiss' RBI double. Buhler scored again at the top of the fifth leaving McPherson trailing 5-1 after a sacrificed fly.
The Bullpups’ defense then came life in a turning point for the team — with a double play by McPherson.
Buhler's pitching game started to fold after walking three batters and loading the bases.
Hoover would get a run off of a wild pitch, and then two more off of an infield error.
The game would later be tied after Chandler Wiard hit an RBI single, sending Hoover home.
He would steal the second base right after another wild pitch and McPherson had a chance to take the lead.
The game would remain tied for two more innings. Bullpups' defense managed to fend of Buhler’s attempts to score.
Werries, who was close to delivering more than 100 pitches was a key part of McPherson’s defense.
He helped orchestrate a 1-6-3 double play in the fifth inning, and a 6-3 double play in the sixth.
Gerstner said that the Bullpups defense has been one of the keys to their success this season.
"That been our key this whole season. It's been a focus for us," Gerstner said. "We're not as defensive as I would like, and those team plays hurt us tonight."
While Werries was still on the mound, McPherson gave up three errors in the seventh.
One resulted into a run for the Crusaders, and they regained the lead.
After trailing 6-5, Gerstner made the decision to take out Werries and bring in Jakob Feil to close the inning.
The bases were loaded after Werries gave up two walks. Feil hit one player in his first pitch.
McPherson was able to load the bases after two walks and a single from Reiss, however, after a pitching change, Buhler managed to get three straight outs to get the victory.
It was a tough pill to swallow for the Bullpups as the Crusaders rushed down to the field to celebrate as regional champs.
Despite missing State, Gerstner gave his players credit for overcoming a 4-run deficit, and congratulated Buhler for a job well done.
"I'm super proud of our kids. We see us as an unbelievable group. I have no idea how many games they won for us, unbelievable leaders and unbelievable group of guys, Gerstner said.
"Tonight didn't go our way like we wanted to, but many times if you have a chance, you want to be in the hunt, and we were right there tonight. Credit to Buhler, I think they outplayed us."
Buhler now regional champs, they will head on to State, which will be in Emporia for Class 4A-DI. McPherson's season has come to an end as they finished 15-7 for the year.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter@Petes_Picks_or our sports page @MacCountySports