The Derby Panthers continued their season and the Girard/Arma All-Stars ended theirs in the Kansas Babe Ruth 13-year-old State Tournament on Tuesday morning.
Derby, winning its fifth straight game with elimination a distinct possibility, took an early 2-0 lead and then came through with a three-run fifth during a 5-2 win for the state title and regional spot.
"We had another one to give," Derby head coach Chris Pinkerton said. "It was pretty exciting. They did a great job. Those guys are awesome. They really battled and they never stopped working. We preach that a lot, about working, effort, discipline and character and they've demonstrated that the past 48 hours. You have to give them credit because they never gave up."
"We're real proud of them today," Girard head coach Rodney Mein said of his team's effort after a lackluster performance Monday night against Derby. "They came out and showed what they had. We played a good game today. Derby's a good team. You can't argue. . . . We had as many hits in the first inning as we had in the whole game last night so we came out to ready play today. We're real proud of them. That's what we challenged them, to come out and make a good showing, and they did. They can be proud of themselves, proud of supporting Girard and everything."
Derby scored two in the first behind a Drew Maddox RBI single and a Beau Rodriguez RBI single, players who have been key RBI men for the Panthers all tournament.
Girard answered with two runs in the bottom half of the first.
Ethan Goff singled to right and Camden McFarland took one for the team — both runners came around to score on RBI singles by Dakota Lopez and Cody Mein, respectively. Mein’s single was of the infield variety, as he legged out a grounder, encouraged by first base coach Doug Diskin, “Hustle, hustle . . . way to hustle.”
The second, third and fourth innings saw the teams remain in a 2-all standstill.
In the third, Derby went for the lead on a wild pitch by Goff. Brett Bell broke for home, Ryan Hughes chased down the ball and tossed to a covering Goff to preserve a 2-all contest.
In the fourth, Girard again preempted a Derby strike.
Rodriguez singled to start the frame but Girard eliminated the lead runner on back-to-back fielder’s choice plays.
Then, on a Jayden Gregg single, Girard right fielder Dalton Wonderly threw a perfect strike to third baseman Vinny Lopez, who caught Derby runner Matthew Hedden in a rundown between second and third. Lopez made one throw to shortstop Dakota Lopez, who tracked down Hedden and tagged him out to end the frame.
Page 2 of 3 - Girard made its attempt on the lead in the fourth. With two outs, Trenton Diskin and McFarland reached base, Diskin on a single and McFarland on his second time taking one for the team in the title game.
Hughes, Girard’s clean-up hitter, did his job by lacing a single to left but Derby executed its throws and threw out Diskin at home, preserving a tie score.
That 2-all score would not last for long as Derby put together its three run fifth and closed out the scoring.
“Girard is an incredible baseball team,” Pinkerton said. “That's all there is to it. They held us down and many times, we were in scoring position. They did an awesome job shutting us down and it took a while for us to get anything going today.”
Justin Crease hit the game-winning two-run double, the crucial hit in a game where both teams combined for 20 hits — Girard 10, Derby 10.
That crucial hit was missing for Girard — 13 runners left on base, two in each of the first five innings and the bases loaded in the seventh.
Girard won its first three state games, including a 8-7 semifinal win over rival Frontenac, before consecutive losses to Derby with the state title at stake. However, this Girard team left it all on the field.
“It's like one of my coaches said today, 'When we started the year and if anybody had told us we'd be second place in the state, we wouldn't have believed them,'” Mein said. “The kids worked hard and they developed and we're real proud of them.”
Girard finished second and Frontenac third, representing Crawford County.
The Frontenac grounds crew of Bill Sullivan, John Palumbo, Ethan Ketterman and Kyle Martin received a round of applause for their hard work in keeping the field in tip-top shape all tournament.
Meanwhile, the state champions will represent the Sunflower State at the Midwest Plains Regional Tournament (Aug. 1-6) in Fountain, Colo.
Derby will open play Aug. 2 against the Missouri state champion; other states represented: North Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.
“It's a longer drive than this one was but we're happy to take it,” Pinkerton said. “Extend the season as long as we can. These guys love to play and so we're going to keep playing as long as possible.”
Ah yes, the drive.
With no road construction, it’s approximately 160 miles and 2 hours, 50 minutes from Derby to Frontenac one way, whereas it’s 519 miles and over 7 hours from Derby to Fountain (birthplace of singer-songwriter Peter LaFarge, writer of “The Ballad of Ira Hayes”), a city of approximately 26,000 located 10 miles south of Colorado Springs and just east of Fort Carson.
Page 3 of 3 - Kansas Babe Ruth 13-year-old State Tournament
Championship Game No. 2
Derby 5, Girard 2
DER 200 030 0 — 5 10 1
GIR 200 000 0 — 2 10 0
Justin Crease, Colton Moushey (3), Jayden Gregg (5), Beau Rodriguez (7) and Alex McGill, Crease. Ethan Goff, Dakota Lopez (5) and Ryan Hughes. WP: Moushey. LP: Goff. 2B: Crease. SB: Crease 2, Moushey; Lopez, Cody Mein, Goff. HBP: Crease; Vinny Lopez, Camden McFarland 2. LOB: DER 10, GIR 13.
Derby 5, Girard 2 (Championship Game No. 2)
Derby 9, Stevens County 6
Girard 8, Frontenac 7
Derby 13, Mid-Kansas 2
Derby 23, Frontenac 16
Derby 7, Girard 1 (Championship Game No. 1)
Frontenac 11, Derby 4
Mid-Kansas 22, Columbus 21
Stevens County 15, Wellington 5
Mid-Kansas 14, Osawatomie 8
Girard 11, Columbus 3
Columbus 9, Stevens County 3
Girard/Arma 6, Wellington 0
Derby 12, Mid-Kansas 6
Frontenac 8, Osawatomie 4