It was a strong effort but in the end Hutchinson prevailed.
Chance abounded for the Dodge City High School baseball team Wednesday night but they just couldn’t take advantage as they lost the regional championship to Hutchinson 9-5 in extra innings.
With the loss, the Red Demons end their season at 13-9.
“Unfortunately there’s only one team who can end their season on a win and it wasn’t us this year,” head coach Zach Shipley said. “I’m extremely proud of this team. We lost a heartbreaker, we had many chances to win. But we have a great group of kids that nobody had any expectations for. They believed in themselves and each other. I hate seeing it end.”
Before playing in the championship game, Dodge City rolled through Wichita-South, winning in six innings with a 12-2 run-rule ending.
Hutchinson jumped out to an early 3-1 run after one and a half innings before the Red Demons bats woke up in the bottom of the second, plating three and taking their first lead of the game.
It would be a lead they would keep for a couple of innings as they chased Salthawk starter Brody Smith in the third bringing in sophomore reliever Trenton Turner who was near lights out for the remainder of the game going 5.2 innings giving up just one run earning the win.
“Tip of the cap to that kid,” Shipley said. “When he needed to make a big pitch he made it. He got himself into some pickles and got himself out of it and that’s gutsy. He got himself into opportunities where we could’ve won the game and he made pitches.”
Dodge City got a solid pitching performance out of sophomore Noah Sowers who went four innings giving up five runs on seven hits before reliever Roman Rodriguez would come in and close out the game.
Rodriguez would enter the game after Sowers gave up two straight hits in the top of the fifth inning with no outs. He would escape that mess with just two runs scored and went out to pitch three scoreless innings.
“Our pitching staff has been the backbone for us,” Shipley said. “I can’t speak more highly of what (assistant coach Ty Thomas) has done in his first year. Our pitchers personify what our team is about. We’re not a bunch of gifted baseball players. We’re a bunch of dirtbags and grinders and that’s what our pitchers were. They did a really good job.”
Dodge City tied it up in the fifth on a fly-out from sophomore Blaine Winans but that would be the last run they would score.
After going back-and-forth trying to break the tie, Hutch finally broke through in the ninth, bringing home four runners and putting the game out of reach.
The game marked the final appearance of seniors Jake Montgomery, Ryan Armstrong, Luke Royle, Lucas Hefner, Carlos Rojas and Rylan Allen in Dodge City uniforms.
“What they’ve meant to the program most importantly is that they’ve built a foundation for us to grow on,” Shipley said. “They’ve shown this younger group of guys what it is to work hard and work as a team and family and what you can accomplish. I hate seeing these six guys leave.”
“I think that group has set the bar high for everyone else to understand what we want to do.”