LAWRENCE — The third time was the charm for the Blue Valley West baseball team.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
Special to The Star
The Jaguars were making their third consecutive appearance in the 6A state championship game Saturday evening, and they made sure they would come out a winner.
They scored four runs in the first three innings and beat Olathe South 8-0 at the University of Kansas’ Hoglund Field.
Junior right-hander Ryan Ralston allowed just four hits in going the distance, and his team didn’t allow a run in the tournament.
“I was not going to let us lose this game,” he said. “It’s so awesome to get here three years in a row and to win it is awesome.”
Ralston got the first RBI in the game on a force-out and singled to left in the fourth inning, driving in the sixth run of the game.
Sophomore shortstop Conner Kaiser showed good range and on one pop fly caught the ball in right-center.
He singled to center in the two-run first inning and had a bunt single that scored a run in the second inning.
Junior second baseman Garrett Smith had a double and RBI single.
And the joyous players gave 40-year head baseball coach Bill McDonald a Gatorade bath after the game. McDonald won four state titles at Shawnee Mission South and now has two at Blue Valley West.
“The biggest thrill wasn’t giving up a run in the tournament,” he said. “We lost 11 seniors off last year’s team and to come back and win with these kids and parents is special.”
BV West, the East Kansas League champion, finished the season with a record of 21-4 while the Sunflower League champion Falcons finished at 18-6.
Blue Valley third
Blue Valley had no trouble beating Derby 8-2 in the third-place game.
It was tough for the Tigers to come back after a tough 2-0 loss to Blue Valley West in the semifinals.
“They were pretty devastated,” first-year Blue Valley coach Tony Scardino said. “This is a difficult game to play. It is tough to bounce back, but we came out and played.”
Derby scored a run in the top of the second, but the Tigers took the lead with a four-run rally.
The key blow was a two-run, inside-the-park home run by junior Chance Nelson. The center fielder dove for his sinking line drive and it got by him. Nelson was easily able to circle the bases.
Blue Valley junior center fielder Brandon Lee blunted a Panther rally in the top of the fourth. He fielded pinch hitter Billy Rohr’s single to center and threw out Derby’s Nathaniel Crossman at the plate for the second out.
After giving up a run in the fourth, senior right-hander Jacob Franey settled down and allowed just two singles in the last three innings.
“Franey did a nice job after the fourth inning,” Scardino said. “He got into his rhythm.”
Franey gave up two runs and six hits, fanning two and walking two.
The Tigers finished 5-8.