A timely hit and an untimely error were enough to lift Council Grove past Marion in extra innings, 2-1, Thursday in a Class 3A baseball regional semifinal game at Soden?s Grove Field in Emporia.
But not even a loss could overshadow a dazzling pitching performance by senior hurler Bret Voth (6-1), who faced 30 batters and needed less than 80 pitches to throw a three-hitter over 82?3 innings. The right-hander neither walked nor struck out any batters, threw seven three up, three down innings and gave up just one earned run, despite battling illness. It was his first loss in two years.
?It?s one of the best pitching performances I?ve ever seen,? coach Roger Schroeder said. ?He gave them everything they even dreamt of. That?s what Bret?s been doing for us for the last two years. He finds ways to miss the barrel and get guys out.?
The Warriors backed Voth with some defensive gems. Dakota Stimpson made a diving catch in right field, and centerfielder Mason Pedersen dove to corral a ball off the bat of Blake Buchman which turned into a double play.
With such a lock-down pitching effort and a near-perfect defensive outing, all the Warriors lacked was a timely hit. Marion tallied eight hits over nine innings, including six off starter Daniel Bachura to end his outing after five innings. In an April meeting, Council Grove swept a doubleheader, including a 13-0 run-rule shutout behind the arm of Bachura.
?We did much better today,? Schroeder said. ?We didn?t do a great job offensively, but we did enough. We gave ourselves opportunities, and in a game like this against a good team, you have to take advantage of your opportunities, and we didn?t. We made one error in nine innings. It cost us the game.?
Marion gained the upper hand early. Jacob Baldwin keyed a one-run first inning by touching Bachura for an RBI double to score Voth, who had reached base with a one-out single. That gave Marion a 1-0 lead.
The Braves tied the score in the bottom of the fourth inning?the inning in which Voth surrendered his first hit?and the teams remained deadlocked through the next four innings.
The Warriors stranded a pair of base runners in both the third and fourth innings and left the bases loaded in the top of the fifth.
Council Grove brought in first-team, all-state hurler Lane Fleming to relieve Bachura in the top of the sixth. In his April outing against Marion, Fleming pitched his way to a 7-1 win.
This time, Marion managed two hits off Fleming. With the top of the order up to bat to start the ninth inning, Voth drew a one-out walk and Baldwin reached base on the fielder?s choice. Peyton Heidebrecht hit a long single to right centerfield to advance Baldwin to third, but Marion was unable to plate a run.
Having just thrown his sixth 1-2-3 inning of the afternoon, Voth returned to the mound for the bottom of the ninth and promptly retired the first two Braves. Trey Langvardt, however, reached base on an error?Marion?s only miscue of the outing?allowing the Braves? three-hole, Keegan Honas, to step to the plate and launch a double nearly to the fence. That drove in the winning run for Council Grove in walk-off fashion.
?That game came down to who was going to get the big hit, and they did,? Schroeder said. ?It?s a terrible way to end a game, but we?ve come so far this season. We were 6-6 at one point, and guys started to buy in a little bit more, do some of the little things, and we ended up 14-8. Very respectable from where we started.?
For six seniors?Baldwin, Stimpson, Voth, Kruse, Jared Barney and Nathan Cyr?the game was their last in a Warrior uniform.
Marion 4, Central Heights 2
Regional Quarterfinals, Monday
Dylan Pippin went the distance on the mound to earn the pitching win in Monday?s quarterfinal victory over the Vikings.
Pippin (3-3) did not give up any earned runs and scattered four hits over seven innings of work. He walked one batter and struck out five.
?Dylan Pippin did an excellent job throwing for us,? coach Roger Schroeder said. ?Probably the best start of his career.?
Marion was left to battle from behind when Central Heights scored the game?s first two runs off one hit and a pair of errors in the top of the third inning.
But the Warriors struck back to take the lead in the bottom half of the inning. After singles by Mason Pedersen and Cole Srajer, Bret Voth drove in Marion?s first run with a base hit. Dakota Stimpson later hit a two-out two-run single to give Marion a 3-2 lead.
The Warriors scored once more in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jacob Baldwin and Peyton Heidebrecht reached base with back-to-back singles, and Baldwin scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Stimpson.
Pippin gave up just one hit over the final four innings, securing Marion?s two-run win.
Three Warriors were 2-for-3 at-bat: Trevor Kruse, Srajer and Pedersen. Stimpson tallied three RBIs.
?I had an alumni inform me that?s the fifth straight year that we?ve gotten out of the first round in the playoffs,? Schroeder said. ?We?ve been to two regional semis, a regional championship and won two regionals. That?s pretty good over a five-year span for a school that had been to one state tournament and had one regional championship in the previous 12. I told those guys after the game, ?You?re carrying on the tradition.? We?re building a program.?