Posting a 2-1 record, the Spring Hill Bronco baseball team brought back a second-place finish from the 4A state tournament May 27-28 at Dean Evans Stadium in Salina. It was the second consecutive second-place state finish for Spring Hill. Last year the Broncos took runner-up honors to Bishop Ward.
Spring Hill turned back Wichita Trinity 6-1 in the opener and upset number one-ranked Baxter Springs 8-5 to reach the final. The Broncos lost to St. James Academy 9-3 in the state title game.
“I was real pleased with our performance in the state tournament,” Coach David Londene said. “The kids competed well and we had a great fan turnout.”
In the opener versus Trinity, Spring Hill jumped to a 1-0 first-inning lead and added four runs in the top of the second inning.
Junior shortstop Miles Updike doubled in two runs and Spring Hill got another run on a bases loaded walk. One batter later, catcher Evan Smith stroked an RBI single.
Senior pitcher Zach Pickett kept the Trinity bats at bay. He hurled a complete game three-hitter with six strikeouts and just one walk.
“Zach threw well and got us the win,” Londene added. “He was in control of his pitches and threw strikes.”
Meanwhile, the offense was led by the three-hit performances of Updike and leadoff hitter Brady Donahue. Dalton Rudy added one hit.
The victory set the stage for an early Saturday battle with number one-ranked Baxter Springs.
Once again, Spring Hill jumped to a 5-0 first-inning lead and added an insurance run in the second inning. The Broncos tacked on two more in the third inning.
The Lions of Baxter Springs pulled within 6-3 after two innings and made things interesting with two more in the fifth inning. But Bronco reliever Zach Girens silenced the rally.
Bronco starter Dylan Shafer hurled the first four-and-one-thirds innings striking out seven and allowing just four hits. He yielded to Girens in the fifth and the sophomore responded with an excellent relief effort.
Shafer helped his cause with two hits as did Donahue and cleanup hitter Adam Nunn. Nate Keegan and Updike added one hit apiece.
In the championship game, St. James prevailed by a 9-3 score. Tied 1-1 after two innings, James added two runs in the third inning and sealed the verdict with two runs in the fifth inning and four more in the sixth.
Jeff Lovetinsky was the losing pitcher. Pickett and Girens saw relief duty.
“St. James is a good team and came through with timely hitting and some solid pitching,” Londene said.
Despite the loss, Spring Hill got two hits from Donahue and Smith. Nunn, Keegan, Derek Bybee and Rudy collected one hit apiece.
The loss failed to overshadow another excellent season by the Broncos. Spring Hill ended the season 18-7, with a regional title, and winning 15 of their last 18 games.
Spring Hill loses seniors Shane Bontrager, Nate Keegan, Adam Nunn, Dylan Shafer, Evan Smith and Dalton Rudy but return a solid cast of youngsters.
“We will miss our seniors,” Londene said. “I look forward to working with a very talented group next season.”