One out away from elimination, Blue Valley Northwest senior Jacob Sula stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and his Huskies trailing by one run against Olathe East.
Sula was riding BV Northwest’s seventh-inning momentum in the top of the seventh in the quarterfinals of the Kansas 6A state baseball tournament Thursday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark. The Huskies had punched across their first run on a hit batter with the bases loaded and two outs.
Sula did the rest with a two-run single that gave BV Northwest the lead. Senior Connor Ellefson added a RBI single, and senior starting pitcher Johnny Sprinkle finished the job for a 4-2 victory.
“It was awesome,” Sula said. “It was four years of hard work paying off with the one hit. We are not done. We are going out tomorrow and make them work for it.”
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Fifth-seeded BV Northwest, 15-8, advanced into the semifinals and will play No. 1 seed Manhattan, 18-5, at 11 a.m. Friday. The winner advances to the championship game, scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Friday.
For much of the game, it appeared the Huskies were headed for a heartbreaking end to their season. The only two runs Sprinkle allowed came in the bottom of the second, without a hit. Olathe East took advantage of a hit batter, a walk and three errors to score the runs.
“I got a little frustrated, but I stepped off the mound and got back within myself and made sure I didn’t overthrow,” Sprinkle said. “I trusted the guys behind me. I knew they would come back for me and help close this out.”
BV Northwest came close to scoring in the top of the sixth. The Huskies loaded the bases with one out, but hit into a double play. Sula, though, remained confident the offense was going to come through in the last inning.
“We had hit this pitcher,” Sula said. “I think everyone on the team knew that. We just kept doing our job. Each person had a job to do, and it worked out in the end.”
▪ Blue Valley 3, Derby 1: The two runs No. 7 seed Blue Valley scored in the top of the first were all that senior pitcher Daniel Hegarty needed to put the Tigers into the semifinals with a 3-1 win over Derby. Hegarty allowed four hits for the complete-game victory.
The Tigers’ two runs in the first came on a RBI from Jamie Mitchell on a ground-out and a hit by Walker Kinney.
▪ Olathe Northwest 16, Wichita West 1: Olathe Northwest scored six runs in the bottom of the first and cruised to an easy 16-1 victory over Wichita West. The third-seeded Ravens, 16-7, will play Blue Valley at 1:15 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
▪ Manhattan 3, Hutchinson 1: After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, top-seeded Manhattan scored one run in the second and two in the third to take a 3-1 lead. Manhattan senior pitcher Nicholas Wohler did the rest, throwing a complete game for the win. Wohler allowed only two hits.
▪ St. Thomas Aquinas 4, Topeka Seaman 2: Spurred by the top of its order, St. Thomas Aquinas reached the semifinals of the Class 5A tournament with the quarterfinals win in Wichita.
The Saints’ top four hitters — Will Swanson, Brendan Ryan, Nathan Mark and Bayler Hinz — combined for three hits, four runs, six walks and two of Aquinas’ three RBIs.
Aquinas (19-4), the defending 5A champion, scored three runs in the first inning. Bayler Hinz’s bases-loaded walk scored the first run and the inning was capped by the Saints’ only RBI hit, a single by Chase Elias that scored Mark.
Seaman (18-5) outhit Aquinas 9-6, but Hinz, Aquinas’ starter, didn’t walk a batter and scattered eight hits. Aquinas added a fifth-inning run on Mark’s sacrifice fly.
Aquinas will face Bishop Carroll in the semifinals.
▪ Bishop Carroll 5, Blue Valley Southwest 4: Blue Valley Southwest fell to Bishop Carroll in eight innings in the quarterfinals.
Bishop Carroll (22-1) scored the tying and winning runs on a chopper hit to BV Southwest shortstop Chris Eposito. Eposito’s throw pulled BV Southwest first baseman Lukas Rich off the bag, which scored one run. Bishop Carroll’s Brock Hipp, who had reached third base on the play, went on to score the winner when Rich turned to argue the call at first base.
BV Southwest, which finishes the season at 12-11, had scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth after the two teams were tied 3-3 after seven innings.
Jeffrey Lutz, The Wichita Eagle
▪ Augusta 6, Basehor-Linwood 2: Basehor-Linwood appeared poised to make some noise in its first trip back to the state tournament in nearly a decade, but the upset bid was dashed late as Augusta grabbed a 6-2 victory Thursday afternoon in 4A-I quarterfinals action in Salina.
The Basehor-Linwood Bobcats (10-12) picked up a sturdy effort out of Dante Nelson on the mound, as the senior held the Orioles (18-5) to just one run through the first five innings. Augusta saw the first six batters of the sixth inning reach though, plating five runs.
Nelson allowed just five hits and two earned runs. Zach McKnight, Jacob Robinette and Jackson Jennings each had hits, with Jennings knocking home Robinette to tie it in the fifth.
▪ Ottawa 6, Bishop Miege 5: Cracking 10 hits and seemingly having an answer for everything Ottawa threw at it, Bishop Miege saw the third seed score three in the bottom of the seventh to walk off with a 6-5 win.
The Stags (12-11) exploded for seven hits over the second and third innings to plate a pair of runs and take control against the Cyclones (17-5). Even when Ottawa knocked a pair of doubles and plated three in the bottom of the third, Miege answered with a big triple from David Robinson and two more runs to take the lead right back.
A single and two walks loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh though, and Ottawa followed with three straight hits through the infield to eke out the win.
David Rung, Special to The Star