Loss drops De Soto out of first
Generosity killed the Wildcat Monday in a crucial Frontier League baseball game that Paola won 5-4 over De Soto in Paola.
The Wildcats butter-fingered their way to four errors over the final two innings, allowing the Panthers to claw back into the contest. De Soto led 4-2 after five innings.
"I firmly believe that if we make them hit the ball late in the game, we win," De Soto baseball coach Steve Deghand said. "But we didn't. We shot ourselves. We were very generous."
Leif Goleman started the hospitality when he allowed the first two Panthers to reach base in the sixth inning on a leadoff single and a throwing error. After a wild pitch, three straight ground ball outs ended the inning. Paola, however, tied the game with two runs in the inning.
Three straight errors in the bottom of the seventh inning then resulted in the game-winning run for the Panthers.
"They had just one hit in the final two innings when they scored three runs," Deghand said. "That's not going to get it done for us. They made some plays, and we didn't make the plays we needed to win."
Despite the error he committed in the sixth inning, Goleman had a solid pitching performance. He gave up seven hits while striking out three batters. Only one Panther walked during the seven-inning contest. Two of the five runs allowed by Goleman were earned.
Paola took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when it was credited for three hits, including a single and a double back-to-back.
De Soto found success bunting the ball as it got back into the game by scoring two runs in the third inning and one each in the fourth and fifth innings, taking a two-run lead.
Deghand's squad laid out four singles in the third inning and sent seven batters to the plate. Panther errors helped De Soto to the two runs in the fourth and fifth innings. The Wildcats had just two hits combined in those innings.
"We did a good job of moving our runners around the bases with our bunt offense," Deghand said.
Travis Crow opened the third inning with a single and moved to second base on a Tyler Farmer sacrifice bunt. Jerod Bader and Hunter Noe then connected on back-to-back singles. Noe's single scored Crow, and a two out single by Troy Gower allowed Bader to come home.
Austin DeGraeve led off the fourth inning and reached base safely because of a Panther error. Riley Pierce sacrificed DeGraeve to second base, and Farmer hit a two-out single, scoring the second baseman.
Taylor Burnett got aboard the base pads with a one-out single in the fifth inning. The junior then scored on a pair of Panther errors.
De Soto (7-3), ranked ninth by the latest Kansas Baseball Coaches Association poll, was tied for the league lead with Spring Hill going into Monday's battle. But the loss drops the Wildcats into a second place tie with the Panthers (5-3) at 5-1. Spring Hill, the state's 10th-ranked team in the same poll, remained 5-0 after Monday's action.
The Wildcats will face the league leader in a doubleheader April 28 at Spring Hill De Soto has twin bills against Anderson County and Prairie View before that battle. They also have to play games against Louisburg, 10th-ranked Gardner-Edgerton (5A) and eighth-ranked Eudora (4A). All three teams figure to have a say in how the league race finishes.
The Wildcats play at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the 3 and 2 Baseball Complex against Anderson County.