Vikings end Wildcats tournament
De Soto's senior league baseball team appeared headed for the championship game of the 3 and 2 Baseball Club of Johnson County's post-season American League tournament.
But the Shawnee Mission West Vikings pulled the rug out from under the Wildcats, squeaking out a 9-8 come-from-behind victory after scoring five runs in each of the final two innings.
It was the Wildcats, however, that found themselves in a position in which they needed to rally early in the game. After the first inning De Soto trailed 4-0. But the Wildcats rallied in their half of the second inning and took a one-run advantage.
"We are relentless," Wildcats coach Dustin Jamison said. "I'm not sure why that is. We've been working with them on that. It doesn't do a lot of good to get fired up over things I can't control. If I get upset and kick something, the kids panic. I try to have a calming effect on the players."
Aaron Hansen started the rally, which eventually gave the Wildcats a 5-4 advantage, when he walked from the lead-off spot in the second inning.
Another walk by Brady Maasen, and back-to-back singles by Austin DeGraeve and Jake Morse put the first four Wildcats on the base pads safely. DeGraeve's single scored Hansen and Morse's brought in Maasen and DeGraeve.
Following a strike out by Erik Hill, Dustin Grimes walked. Then an RBI single from Jake Bosnak scored Morse and Jerin Riffel, who arrived on the base pads via a fielder's choice.
De Soto added three more runs in the fourth inning, giving the Wildcats an 8-4 advantage.
DeGraeve led off the inning with a base on balls. He advanced to second base on a throwing error to first. Morse then walked, putting runners on first and second.
Morse was thrown out between first and second. DeGraeve found his way to third following Hill's ground out to the pitcher. Back-to-back-to-back base hits by Grimes, Riffel and Bosnak then produced the four-run advantage for the Wildcats.
Three straight singles spearheaded West's rally as all three hitters scored, pulling the Vikings within 8-7 going into the final inning.
In the seventh inning, three straight Vikings reached base safely on a single and two walks. A defensive error and a game- ending single then gave the Vikings a 9-8 win and ended De Soto's season.
"It's disappointing," Jamison said. "But I'm proud of the guys. We responded and played good baseball."
Tyler Farmer threw more than 100 pitches during his complete game effort. Although he gave up nine runs in the contest, only three of them were earned thanks to three defensive errors that occurred at the most inopportune times. All three occurred in innings in which West scored.
"Hey, they're a good baseball team," Jamison said of the Vikings. "They play solid defense and put the ball in play like no other team we've seen."
The Wildcats advanced to the semifinals by doubling the score on the Ravens 10-5.
De Soto fell behind 4-1 after two-and-a half innings, but rallied in the bottom of the third by tallying six runs. The Wildcats were never challenged after that. De Soto scored four more runs in the fifth inning, putting the game out of reach. The Ravens added a run in the fifth inning.
Riffel threw six of the seven innings and struck out two. He also walked two batters and allowed three hits. Travis Crow finished off the Ravens by allowing two hits and striking out one batter in the seventh inning.
The Vikings eventually fell to St. Thomas Aquinas 10-8 in the championship game after holding the lead early. Aquinas advanced to the finals with a 7-4 win over the Bonner Springs Diamondbacks. De Soto ended its season with a 16-6 record.