The drama was building and momentum already had swung toward St. Thomas Aquinas in the seventh inning of Thursday’s Class 5A baseball quarterfinal against Shawnee Heights on Thursday.
The first to get a shot at the hero’s role was senior Tyler Watson.
“He was the perfect guy,” Aquinas coach Lorne Parks said.
Watson drilled Shawnee Heights reliever Zach Holmes’ third pitch over the left fielder, driving in the tying and winning runs in Aquinas’ 3-2 victory at Tointon Family Stadium.
“I was looking for a piped fastball,” said Watson, who relieved Aquinas starter Riley Pint in the sixth and got the victory. “He came in over the plate and I got a good swing on it.”
Aquinas, 19-4, will play reigning 5A champion Topeka Seaman in Friday’s first semifinal. Seaman entered Thursday as the No. 8 seed with an 11-11 record, but stunned No. 1 Wichita Heights 2-1 to advance.
The Saints had just two hits through the first six innings against Shawnee Heights starter Austin Higgins. Jack Pauley started the winning rally with a one-out infield hit. After Nicholas Pascuzzi struck out, Dallas Mitchell walked. Weston Jacobs then grounded to shortstop Dayton Pomeroy, whose throw to first sailed high and lodged in the fence near the dugout, allowing Pauley to score.
With the tying and winning runs in scoring position, Watson came through with the hardest hit ball of the game.
“We’ve got new life, and I think we’re going to be fired up when we come out tomorrow,” Watson said. “It’s going to be a blast.”
Blue Valley Southwest 5, Goddard Eisenhower 0: Junior Miller Hogan pitched a no-hitter with 10 strikeouts to boost the Timberwolves into the semifinals.
Hogan, who threw a perfect game in a regional victory over Washington, walked Eisenhower leadoff batter Griffin Jones to start the game. He then retired the next 19 before pinch hitter Tyris Klein walked with two outs in the seventh.
Hogan punctuated the victory with a strikeout of Keaton Vansickle.
“When I was warming up, I could feel I had a little extra today,” Hogan said. “My stuff was probably was as good as it was all year.”
Hogan outdueled Eisenhower sophomore Braden Minor, who was named the Gatorade Kansas Player of the Year earlier this week. The Timberwolves scored a run off Minor in the fourth then plated three in the fifth — two on catcher Dalton Dinkel’s pickoff attempt at third that sailed up the left-field line.
Class 4A: Paola rallies for win
Paola rallied from a 4-3 deficit in the seventh inning on an RBI single from Seth Slayman, then added four runs in the ninth inning and won 8-4 against Topeka Hayden, the defending Class 4A state champions.
In the ninth, Paola’s Stephen Locke laid down a perfect bunt along the first-base line to score Nick Sloan for a 5-4 lead and Mitchell Sloan followed with a two-RBI double. Trey Taylor picked up the complete-game win for Paola, striking out seven.
DE SOTO 8, TONGANOXIE 7: De Soto’s Kendall Freeman connected for a game-winning RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning for the win in the Class 4A-Division I quarterfinals.
Freeman’s game-winner almost didn’t count — he was celebrating along the first-base line as the run scored, went back to celebrate with his teammates and then realize he hadn’t touched the bag, prompting a mad dash to first. Tonganoxie didn’t realize it until too late.
“I was kind of having a Manny (Ramirez) moment there,” said Freeman, who went two for three. “Never hit a game-winner before.”
De Soto was down 7-5 headed into the seventh after Tonganoxie’s Tyler Novotney hit an RBI single and Travis Woods scored on a throwing error by De Soto. De Soto will face Rose Hill in one of Friday’s semifinals.
BISHOP WARD 12, BURLINGTON 2: Bishop Ward dominated Burlington 12-2 in their first game of the 4A Division II tournament on Thursday. Cole Henley had two doubles with three runs while Victor Tapia scored another three in the victory. Henley had three of Bishop Wards 14 hits in the game.
Bishop took an early lead in the first inning, scoring two runs to start the game. The Cyclonesw scored four more runs in the fourth, and a final three in the seventh to bring an end to the game on a run-rule.
Brull got the win for Bishop Ward.
The Wichita Eagle contributed to this story