Bulldogs nearly rally to beat Gardner, but swept Tuesday
GARDNER — Baldwin High School’s baseball team almost pulled off its second straight seventh-inning rally here Tuesday night.
Last week, the Bulldogs (6-12) split with rival Eudora after scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning in the second game of the doubleheader. On Tuesday, they were one hit shy of possibly rallying past the Trailblazers (16-4).
In the opening game, BHS entered the seventh inning trailing 4-2. Freshman Tyler Cawley scored on a hit from junior Nate Growcock to close the lead to one run.
Then the Bulldogs loaded the bases. They had only one out in the inning and it looked as if they were going to take the lead. Two strikeouts later, the game was over and the Bulldogs lost 4-3.
“I think we should have had them the first game,” Growcock said. “We just couldn't quite string together a rally at the end of the game. It was a tough night, but they are a good team.”
Coach Brock Hartshorn was proud of his players, but knew they were disappointed with the loss.
“We played a very good 5A school very tough tonight,” he said. “We had the bases loaded with one out and had a shot to beat them. We just didn’t come through with a hit. Our kids have battled all year and our record doesn’t show how good these kids are. We’ve played a lot of one-run games and not come out on top of some.”
Baldwin jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Juniors Landon Ausherman and Justin Vander Tuig, who was running for Growcock, scored in the inning. Then Gardner took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the inning. Baldwin held the Trailblazers scoreless during the next five innings, which made the loss even tougher to swallow.
“We beat them the rest of the game, but that first inning just killed us,” Growcock said. “We just have to come out ready to play better from the beginning.”
Gardner junior Bubba Starling hit his first of three home runs on the night in the first inning. He was the first batter of the game and drove the opening pitch out of the park.
“Bubba is tough,” Hartshorn said. “He hit three home runs tonight. He’s a very good player.”
In the second game of the night, Gardner started hot again. The Trailblazers took an 8-0 lead into the sixth inning. Then the Baldwin offense came alive.
Junior Kyle Pattrick and Growcock each singled in the sixth inning. Ausherman hit them home with a two-run double. Vander Tuig again ran for Growcock, but then he reentered the game as a pinch runner for Ausherman. He soon crossed home plate on an RBI single from sophomore Hunter Burkhart.
Baldwin was unable to score any runs in the seventh inning as it lost 8-3. This year’s games were much closer than last year’s contests, where Gardner won by a combined score of 29-0.
“We hit the ball hard at the end, but couldn't string anything together,” Hartshorn said. “Bubba is pretty tough and we struggled against him early in the game. I thought our kids improved from last year, where we were scared to play them. This year we decided to go after them and step up to the challenge.”
The Bulldogs’ next game will be in the Class 4A regional tournament. Their opponent, game time and location were announced after press time and will be available online at baldwincity.com.