McPHERSON—It's been 11 days since the McPherson High School baseball team were in action and it came at a better time because the Bullpups hadn't played at Grant Park in 39 days.
Unfortunately, it was their last game as they lost to Newton High School 10-3 on Monday during play-in game of the Class 5A Regional Tournament. The Railers snapped their 13-game losing streak, and earned their second win of the year as they continue on at regionals.
"I'm very proud of our guys," Railer's Head Coach Mark George said. "We've been through a lot of close ballgames this year, and I think we kind of been a little wait-and-see throughout most of the year.
What I mean by that is we kind of wait for other teams to make mistakes instead of seizing the opportunity in trying to go get somebody."
Dylan Rinker started on the mound for the Bullpups, and he was already in deep water in the first inning. Newton collected six runs off five hits and three errors on the Bullpups. Despite the dreadful inning and already reached over 20 pitches, he remained in the game, and the Railers went scoreless for the next four innings. Bullpup's Head Coach Heath Gerstner praised Rinker for bouncing back after the first inning.
"I thought Dylan Rinker as a sophomore was outstanding," Gerstner said. "There was no question about it. In reality, he probably puts up five or six zeros for us and controls the running game. He just continues to get better. What a great future he has."
As their defense kept the Bullpups alive, it was time for them to make a comeback and produce some runs. The Bullpups were finally on the board off a Tanner Cheatham's groundball single, sending Jakob Feil home. The Bullpups added two more runs to cut the Railer's lead in half. It was a whole new ball game after McPherson was only down 6-3.
"I thought we started creating pressure on them a little bit," Gerstner said. "We had guys in scoring position, and even that, with the possibility of getting more, it was just wasn't our day."
Camden Fenwick was the Railer's starting pitcher. George kept him in the game, and the junior pitcher stopped the bleeding quickly, having the Bullpups settled for two runs in the bottom fifth.
"He did a nice job. He really battled. I didn't think he had his best stuff, but he pitched himself in some jams, which was huge," George said. "Particularly in those first four innings when they had runners on. It could've easily gotten away from us, and he made pitches when he needed to make pitches, and our defense made plays when they needed to make plays."
After going scoreless since their first inning, The Railers finally shut down the Bullpup's momentum by loading up the bases and adding two more runs off an error by McPherson's reliever Chandler Wiard. Both McPherson and Newton recorded five errors each. The Railers took advantage of the Bullpup's errors and scored four runs off it.
Ben Schmidt, Henry Classen and Matt Seirer tied for two hits, and Zach Kennell collected two RBIs for Newton. Collin Pearson and Feil tied for two hits for the Bullpups.
Before the game, McPherson honored its three seniors Gabe Hoover, Shane Starkel and Wiard. Gerstner gave his remarks on his senior players after the game.
"This senior group is a very special group. This didn't go the way that they planned or written down on paper, but my hats off to them for staying," Gerstner said. "(They) Probably would call another sport their primary sport, and as much as they put into our program, they have been impressive and respectful. All the seniors are great kids that care about our community and truly care about our team. They have been great for us."
The Bullpups finished their season with a 7-12 record. Newton will move on to take on the No. 1 seed Hays High School on Tuesday at 2 p.m. The winner will advance to the regional finals and face either Great Bend High School or Wichita Northwest.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_orour sports page @MacCountySports