One of the biggest things the Olathe East High School baseball team has learned this season is patience, and that characteristic paid off again Monday night.
The Hawks hung on through an oppressive pitching performance by Shawnee Mission East’s Joey Wentz, who allowed only three hits and one run in six innings, but in the seventh they found it in themselves to erase a 6-run deficit, force extra innings and defeat the Lancers 8-7 at The 3&2 Baseball Club of Johnson County.
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Olathe East, which is ranked second in the latest Kansas Association of Baseball Coaches poll, improved to 11-4 and a Sunflower League best 6-1 while third-ranked Shawnee Mission East dropped to 10-3 and 4-2.
SM East loaded the bases with three straight singles in the second inning against Olathe East starter Connor Leach who walked in the first run. Two batters later, Gunnar Troutwine knocked a two-out three-run double to right-center field.
Chad Thomas led off the third inning with a double and Ty Herrenbruck followed with another to put Olathe East on the board, but the Lancers answered with three more runs over the next two innings to push the lead to 7-1.
It was not until Wentz exited the game after the sixth inning that the Hawks finally started to get their bats going. With Quinn Appletoft and Trey Austin on the mound for the Lancers, the Hawks tied the game with a six-run seventh inning, which included a two-out grand-slam by Adam Thies.
“It felt really good to come through in the clutch moments,” Thies said. “I sat on the fastball and put a good swing on it.”
Jeff Skeens drew a walk to lead off the eighth inning, advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Payne McCutcheon and scored the go-ahead run on an error. He also finished off the game on the mound for the Hawks by holding the Lancers scoreless for the final three innings to allow the comeback.
“That’s one of the best-hitting teams in the state, if not the best-hitting team,” Lancers coach Jerrod Ryherd said. “Joey got up on pitch count, and he’s had some arm issues in the past, so I felt we had to pull him as far as the safety of the arm goes, and I would do it again. We just didn’t get it done.”