McPherson baseball having successful spring with young team
SALINA — Heath Gerstner tells the McPherson High baseball team to play one pitch at a time.
The Bullpups, currently 11-3 after Thursday's sweep over Circle, are among the elite in Class 4A ranked No. 2 in the latest Kansas Baseball Coaches Association's rankings with a young team.
"These guys have played a lot of baseball growing up," said Gerstner after splitting with Salina Central and Salina South Tuesday. "I think the future of Bullpup baseball is pretty bright."
The Bullpups' sweep over the T-Birds earned them a regular-season championship in Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division III play. McPherson needed a 3-2 victory in the opener against Circle and took the nightcap, 10-0.
Behind their only senior Dylan Rinker is a strong four-member junior class that features Tytin Goebel, Jaron Brown, Aiden Hoover, and Collin Pearson. Dawson Feil, Jaret Myers, Hunter Alvord, and Jaytin Gumm are among a strong seven-member sophomore class. All of them can play any position, including pitching a couple of innings, when necessary.
"It's a great group," Gerstner said. "Truthfully, I like to call them a competitive group. It doesn't matter if we're playing ping pong or bowling or whatever, they like to win. I'm just fortunate to be their coach. I just like how aggressive we are (and) how competitive we are.
"I think when you've got multiple guys that can throw for us, and got some pretty tough outs in our lineup. That's going to give us a shot about every single night."
Despite having three losses on the season, two of them are coming in nonconference play within the last week. The Bullpups traveled to play in the River City Baseball Festival in Lawrence where they defeated Lansing, 7-5, but fell to Ray-Pec (Missouri), 11-1. Last Tuesday, McPherson suffered its second consecutive loss, 8-1, to Salina Central, but managed to bounce back with an 11-3 victory over Salina South.
"I wasn't too worried after game one," Gerstner said. "They had a bad taste in their mouths there, and to get right after (Salina South), was kind of what I expected. Just proud of our guys to pull back together.
"Our guys had a little resolve there and forgot about game one, which is tough to do sometimes, and put it together and played well in that second game."
The Bullpups' other loss of the season came on April 8 when they split with Buhler, dropping the opener, 10-2, and bounced back with a 12-5 victory in the finale. McPherson also has wins over Great Bend and Junction City. It has two Class 6A opponents left on its schedule when it hosts Dodge City and Campus on Tuesday.
Gerstner said scheduling opponents that are not in the same classification is done intentionally.
"I'm fortunate that all of our nonconference games are against schools that are bigger than us," Gerstner said. "We want to play schools better than us and that's going to give us a chance in the postseason."