Bishop Ward won the inaugural Kansas Class 4A, Division II baseball championship Friday at Pratt Community College.
The seventh-seeded Cyclones broke a 2-2 tie with a three-run seventh inning, knocking off top-seeded Perry-Lecompton 5-2 for one of the most dramatic of the program’s 13 state baseball titles.
It also was one of the most unexpected championships for Ward, 15-10, which had closed the season on an eight-game winning streak.
“We were losing a lot of close games middle of the year,” said Hurla, who has guided Ward to 10 state titles. “They really could have just caved in, but instead they started playing well the last week of the regular season. We got into regional and played great, and we played excellent here at the state tournament.”
The Cyclones’ seventh-inning rally started with two walks before Evan Brull mashed the game-winning, two-run triple. Brull later scored on a squeeze play.
“It never, ever gets old,” Hurla said. “This is what keeps me young. It’s great. We’re on cloud nine right now, sky high. I don’t feel like I’m 60 tonight.”
Senior left-hander Nick Wilson baffled the Kaws (21-4) scattering five hits in a complete-game victory.
“It was a great performance,” Hurla said. “To have a senior pitcher on the mound in the state championship pitch like that. It was excellent … and we played great defense behind him.”
The Cyclones lost eight of their first 14 games and sat at 7-10 entering the season’s final week, making this state championship particularly sweet.
“This group is just a bunch of hard-working kids that they just want to play, they want to get better, they want to be the best they can be,” Hurla said. “Every single one of them are like that, and it’s just really special to have a group like that.”
The championship is Ward’s first since 2010, which capped a span of seven titles in eight seasons. The Cyclones also won state in 1958, 1960, 1983, 1998-99, 2003-08 and 2010.
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