Knights’ season sunsets with third-place trophy
The De Soto Black Knights peaked at just the right time this season, and earned a third-place finish at the 14-and-under Kaw Valley League baseball tournament because of it.
Although they finished in the middle of the pack during the regular season at 6-6, Tony Keating saw his team catch fire with the bats just in time to secure post-season hardware.
"Everybody has just been playing real consistent baseball this week," Keating said. "Everybody is hitting at the right time and making plays. It's been fun to be a part of that."
The Knights started the tournament by knocking off the second team from De Soto, managed by Will Grimes. For the second time in three tries, the Black Knights squeaked out a one-run game (7-6) between the rivals.
Grimes' De Soto team blasted the Black Knights in the other meeting of the two teams.
"This game is turning into a great rivalry for the kids," Keating said. "It's a game we really get up for."
Grimes, who coached a couple of the Black Knights on his team last season, also hinted that there might be a battle of bragging rights forming between the two De Soto programs.
"Most of the kids go to school together," he said, "so they all want to beat each other."
The Black Knights won this battle of De Soto in the bottom of the sixth inning when Eric Buffkin walked and stole second.
After a single sent him to third, Buffkin scored the winning run when his cross-town rivals tried to pick him off going to third and were awarded a throwing error in the process.
The Black Knights ran into league leader and tournament champion Johnson Farms in second-round action. In the 11-1 win, the team from Basehor displayed the offensive punch that carried them much of the season.
The Black Knights then posted 5-4 (10 innings) and 9-3 wins over a pair of teams from Tonganoxie. In the extra innings game, the score was tied at 3-3 going into extra innings. Both teams scored a run in the ninth inning.
De Soto was then humbled by tournament runner-up Lansing by a 14-4 score.
Following their loss to the Black Knights, Grimes' team split a pair of games with Tonganoxie (6-3) and Lansing, (2-5) ending its run in the league tournament.
"I don't know what happened," Grimes said of his team's struggles during the tournament. "The men couldn't get their bats together. But they did play good defense."
Matt Woywod and Casey Keating led the way for the Black Knights offensively by going 6-for-13 and 6-for-12, respectively, during the tournament.
Aaron Hansen also contributed in a big way. Not only did he hit for percentage (7-for-15) but also for power with several extra base hits.
Woywod and Keating also led the way on the mound, especially in the 5-4 extra innings win over Tonganoxie. Woywod pitched seven innings and allowed five hits, while striking out four batters. Keating struck out five in four innings of action and allowed just two hits.
For Grimes' team, Andy Edwards (24) and Dustin Grimes (25) combined for 49 hits on the year, leading the team. James Engels was the ace pitcher on the staff.