Earlier in the baseball season, Shawnee Mission East coach Jerrod Ryherd and freshman Philip Cole joked with each other that Cole might score the winning run to win a state title.
It’s no longer a joke.
Cole, who played for the SM East “C” team and only pinch runs on the varsity level, scored from second base on a throwing error in the bottom of the ninth Saturday, giving the Lancers a 4-3 win over Lawrence Free State in the Kansas Class 6A championship game at Hoglund Ballpark.
“We were laughing about it, but you never think it would happen,” Cole said. “When I was crossing home it was crazy. I didn’t even know what to think. All I knew was we did it. It’s a long season, but we got it done.”
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After Henry Churchill singled down the left-field line to open the ninth, Cole entered the game as a pinch runner. He moved to second on Spencer Mustoe’s sacrifice bunt, then easily scored the next at-bat on the errant throw.
“You don’t really draw it up like that, but when you’re playing a team that’s as good and well-coached as Free State is, you take it anyway you can get it,” Ryherd said. “Cole is super fast. He’s been a big addition to the team, and I can’t count how many games he’s helped us win. He’s kind of our Terrance Gore.”
SM East senior Joey Wentz, who could be a first-round pick in the Major League Baseball draft June 9, made the most of his final day of high school baseball.
He smacked an RBI single in the first, then produced a sacrifice fly in the third that he drove so deep to left-center, it allowed Luke Anderson to score from second.
“That’s never happened to me before,” said Wentz, who threw a two-hitter, struck out nine and hit a deep two-run homer over the center-field fence in SM East’s 11-0 semifinal win over Washburn Rural earlier in the day. “I’ve never done it or seen it, but I’m sure it has happened somewhere before.”
Anderson, who also ripped an RBI double, said SM East accomplished all it set out to do this year.
“We had three goals: Win the league, host a regional, and win state,” he said. “We crossed the last one off today.”