The Pratt 86ers went 1-1 on Wednesday at Buhler in the Zone Tournament.
It would have been understandable if the Pratt 86ers had just quietly folded their tent following the stunning loss to Great Bend on a scorching Wednesday afternoon at the Legion Class A Zone Tournament in Buhler.
But these 86ers don’t roll that way.
The 17-16 extra inning slugfest had to have taken a toll, but the 86ers weren’t ready to go home yet. Dropping into the losers’ bracket, Pratt had to play another game yet Wednesday evening. And they were up to the task.
The opponent was the Hays Eagles, and the 86ers prevailed by the more baseball-like score of 8-4.
Despite having pitched earlier in the day, Wyatt Schrag got the starting nod on the mound, going 2 2/3 innings until he reached his pitch count.
Hays was up 4-1 going to the bottom of the 3rd when the 86ers began their comeback. Pratt would score a single tally in each inning from the third to the fifth to get the game tied at 4.
In the third, Travis Theis basically manufactured a run singlehandedly. He singled, stole second and third, and came home on a passed ball.
In the fourth, Nate Kolm singled, then came around to score when the Eagles outfield misplayed a base hit off the bat of Landen Studer.
In the fifth, Justin Lamatsch doubled, advanced on a single by Hunter Huber, and scored on an RBI groundout by Schrag.
Meanwhile, Justin Lamatsch had relieved Schrag on the bump for the 86ers, shutting the Eagles offense down and giving his team a chance to get back in the game. He put goose eggs on the board in the fourth, the fifth and the sixth.
The score was knotted at 4 when the 86ers came to bat in the bottom of six. They were finally able to break through and put a crooked number on the board. Kolm and Studer worked walks to begin the inning. Kaden Evert singled loading the bases and Theis walked to force in Kolm. Lamatsch got Studer home when the Eagles fielder’s choice failed to record an out. Schrag wore one to get Evert home and Grant Bolen’s sac fly brought in Theis.
Up 8-4 in the top of the seventh, Lamatsch set Hays down with no damage and Pratt had the win.
86er head coach Brian Arensdorf was pleased with his pitching in the contest. “Wyatt (Schrag) did great, giving us almost three innings after he’d thrown earlier in the afternoon,” Arensdorf said. “And (Justin) Lamatsch was very efficient, facing only 15 batters. That will be big for us going into tomorrow.”
Lamatsch threw only 50 pitches, recording 8 strikeouts and allowing only 3 hits in his 4 1/3 innings of work. Pratt scored in 5 of their 6 at-bats, one of their major weapons being speed on the bases. “We’re running the bases really well right now,” Coach Arensdorf explained. “We talked and were able to fix some problems we had in the first couple of innings of game one today.”
The score could have been more lopsided, but Pratt left 9 runners stranded. “When you score almost every inning, you’re putting yourself in pretty good position,” Arensdorf said of the LOBs. “We’d like to score more in those innings, but we’ll take what we can get.”
Arensdorf was especially proud of the 86ers effort in the nightcap. “The kids showed a lot of heart following that tough loss,” he said. “Some of them were playing through heat cramps, but they got the job done.”
The win over Hays Eagles set up a rematch with the Buhler Nationals on Thursday evening. After a lengthy rain delay with precipitation totalling an estimated 20 feet, officials declared the evening’s games washed out.
The 86ers climbed aboard their Ark and returned home after having sat around to no avail for untold hours. The Buhler contest was rescheduled for late afternoon Friday, and was not completed at press time. As Buhler’s field is artificial turf, it should be playable regardless of the amount of precipitation dumped on Thursday night. If they are able to get past Buhler again (whom they defeated in the tourney’s opening round), it will set up a rematch with Great Bend in the tournament semifinals.