Pratt High baseball coach Pat Stivers was not afraid to burden his players with high expectations this season.


Ever since losing to Scott City in last season’s regional final, Stivers knew what the goal for this team was going to be.


Pratt High baseball coach Pat Stivers was not afraid to burden his players with high expectations this season.

Ever since losing to Scott City in last season’s regional final, Stivers knew what the goal for this team was going to be.

After earning his first berth in the state tournament as Greenback coach, Stivers had to think for a second before answering a question about how excited he was to advance to Salina.

“I’m happy about it, but at the same time, this is where we belong,” he said. “This is where this program needs to go. We had to get this done, and we did. I’m proud of the way these kids played all year long. We have so many young kids on this team, but they brought it every game and showed great discipline at the plate and did a good job of understanding what we want to do as a baseball team.”

The Greenbacks accomplished their goal by doing what they’ve done most of this season, run-ruling their opponents with an unrelenting offensive output coupled with a tremendous pitching performance from B.J. Dean.

Pratt advanced to the finals by beating Ulysses 13-2 in five innings in the first game before dominating Hugoton 15-0 in four.

“I thought we played well today,” Stivers said. “We did everything we needed to do to come up here and get two wins and accomplish our goal of getting to state this year. We’ve gotten so close the last couple years and we finally get it done this year. It just proves that all the time we’re putting in over the summer and the games we’re playing in the summer have paid off.”

With a state berth as their goal for several years now, it would be easy to think the Greenbacks might go quietly at the state level, but Stivers isn’t satisfied with just an appearance. He wants to win games.

“Your expectations keep growing,” he said. “Now that we’re there, we want to get there and try to make a run. We’ve got to get past the stage of being excited just to be there and advancing to state, but now we’ve got to try and advance and get to that championship game.”

In the second game, Pratt made a statement early, with Jake Siroky and Dean hitting back-to-back homeruns in the first inning to quickly build a 3-0 lead against the Eagles. Both balls were well-struck, but most likely got help from a steady and powerful wind blowing out to left field.

“The wind definitely helped me on that one,” Siroky said. “Back-to-back with me and B.J. there really made a good statement right at the start. We were here to win a ballgame, and I think they knew it.”

The senior will finally get to play at state after years of falling short.

“It feels amazing. Since we barely fell short last year with Scott City, we came out here and knew what we had to do and there was no messing around today.”

The Eagles made four errors in the final, helping the Greenback cause. The strong winds made pop-flies unpredictable and hard to catch, but the way Pratt was hitting the ball, they were bound to win. They racked up 14 hits in four innings.

Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of the win came on defense. The Greenbacks were errorless in Ulysses, backing up Dean on the mound with solid play.

Dean pitched all but one inning for Pratt on Wednesday, combining for eight innings pitched while allowing just one hit with 12 strikeouts.

“He did it last year for us on the mound, we just couldn’t quite come away with the championship,” Stivers said. “This year, he threw eight innings, but his pitch count was never above 100, combined both games. We talked about what we should do in that second game, but we decided to just start him. He’d only thrown 44 pitches all day, he’s a resilient kid with a great arm, and he just dominated today.”

For Dean, it was just keeping to his routine, going after hitters and throwing strikes.

“Well, I went out there and did what I usually do – throw strikes and put it into position where my players can make plays,” Dean said. “I stayed below 100 pitches, which isn’t bad. I usually throw around 90 anyway.”

Dean said he was a little nervous to start the second game, because he’d already pitched that day, but there wasn’t much rust as he dominated Hugoton, allowing only three baserunners all game.

In the first game against Ulysses, Siroky hit his first homerun of the day in the second inning as part of Pratt’s six-run frame. With a 13-0 lead in the third, Skylar Dean came out and pitched the fourth, allowing the Tigers to get a small rally going.

After a leadoff walk, he allowed a single and back-to-back doubles before getting a double play to end the inning with only two runs scored.

His older brother B.J. returned in the fifth and put up another zero on the scoreboard to finish off the run-rule.

Brackets for state have not been released yet, but Pratt has the chance to earn the top seed. Of the seven reported regional champions, Pratt has the best winning percentage at 20-3.

 

Pratt 15, Hugoton 0

HHS            000  0 – 0  1  4

PHS            355  2 – 15  14  0

 

WP – B. Dean. LP – Camacho. 2B – Herring, B. Dean. HR – Siroky (4), B. Dean (1).

 

Hugoton 5, Russell 3

HHS            000  220  1 – 5  7  1

RHS            020  001  0 – 3  10  2

 

Pratt 13, Ulysses 2

UHS            000  20 – 2  3  3

PHS            364  0x – 13  12  0

 

WP – B. Dean. LP – Chavez. 2B – UHS: Langston, Watie. PHS: Ju. Gilmore, Baird. HR – Siroky (3).