Coach Pete Logan
For the second straight game, the Gardner-Edgerton High School baseball team put themselves in a hole early with control issues from the mound; and for the second straight game, the Blazer pitchers righted the ship while the bats came alive. The result — a 6-3 win over Belton High School last week at Gardner-Edgerton District Activity Center and a 2-0 start to the 2021 campaign.
After finding themselves down early to Shawnee Mission North on Tuesday night, the Trailblazers rallied to capture a 17-6 victory. On Friday against the Pirates, the Blazers found themselves down 3-0 after one inning, despite not allowing a hit in the first frame. As he had on Tuesday night against the Indians, Trailblazer manager Corey Schrack turned to sophomore pitcher Mitch Mauk to settle things down. With runners on first and second base and one out in the top of the second, Mauk took the mound and coaxed two outs on two pitches to get GEHS out of trouble.
It took a little more than one time through the lineup for the home team’s hitters to figure out Belton pitcher Ethan Clearwater. However, the offense finally came to life in the bottom of the fourth inning when sophomore 3rd baseman Austin Buie drew a leadoff walk. Buie stole second base with one out but still found himself on the middle bag one out later. That’s when Mauk blasted a 2-0 pitch to the left field wall for a double to put the Blazers on the board. GEHS courtesy runner Brady LeCluyse then stole 3rd base, then came home when the Belton catcher’s throw to the Pirate 3rd baseman sailed over his head, making the score 3-2. Trailblazer junior catcher Tyler Butash then smacked a single to left and stole second base during junior right fielder Garrett Bergmann’s at bat. Bergmann then notched an infield single that scored Butash after the Blazer catcher had initially been ruled out at home. After the call, the game’s umpires conferred and determined that the Pirates’ third baseman had hindered Butash’s progress to the plate, and the Blazers were rewarded with a run. After 4 complete innings, the score was tied at 3-3.
The Blazer batters went right back to work in the bottom of the 5th, when GEHS junior left fielder Jake McClure was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Senior shortstop Hayden Dyer then knocked a single to left, which was followed by a Belton throwing error that allowed McClure and Dyer to advance to 2nd and 3rd base, respectively. A Buie sacrifice fly to center allowed Dyer to move to third and scored McClure for the Blazers’ first lead at 4-3. Trailblazer sophomore second baseman Carson Schrack next drew a walk and then stole second before the 1st pitch of the Blazers’ next at bat. With two outs, the Pirates intentionally walked Mauk to load the bases. That’s when disaster struck for Belton. A pickoff attempt at 3rd base during Butash’s next at-bat went awry, with the ball rolling off into left field foul territory. Both Dyer and and Schrack scored, and the Blazers held a 6-3 lead after five full innings.
Gardner-Edgerton senior Tye Wood took the mound in the top of the 6th and pulled himself out of a two-on, no-out jam by coaxing a ground ball double play out of the third Belton batter he faced in the inning. The next Pirates’ batter then lined out to Dyer at short, and the threat was neutralized.
Dyer took the mound in the top of the seventh and hurled a 1-2-3 final inning with two strikeouts to seal the win and a 2-0 start for the Trailblazers.
After the game, Schrack spoke about his team’s control issues at the beginning of games.
“We’re struggling a little bit on the bump,” said Schrack, “but I think it’s just early in the season. We’ve got some new arms at the varsity level that are just trying to get through that nervous part of playing at this level. I anticipate we’ll get better and throw more strikes.”
Schrack also spoke about what enabled his squad’s batters to finally reach the Belton pitchers.
“Usually, the first time through the lineup, you get a good look-see at what you’re facing, and then — the second time through — we started to make some noise with our bats. We’ve got some good team speed, and when we get guys on base we feel like we can do some damage there as well. I was pleased with how we could come up with some big hits and get our base running going where we could score some runs late in the game.”
In addition to his brilliance on the mound, Mauk went 2-for-2 from the plate — reaching base on all three of his plate appearances and driving in a run. Dyer went three-for-four from the plate and scored a run, while Buie was officially 0-0 batting but reached base on three of his four plate appearances and drove in a run. Butash was one-for-two batting and reached base on two of his three plate appearances. Against Shawnee Mission North on Tuesday night, Butash clobbered the first Blazer home run of the season — a three-run blast to left that ended the scoring on the night.