Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Clutch Plays Carry Rural Baseball to Sweep of Topeka West

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Clutch Plays Carry Rural Baseball to Sweep of Topeka West

Article excerpt

Looking across the field at Topeka West counterpart John Tetuan, Washburn Rural baseball coach Jay Mastin knew exactly what was going through Tetuan's mind.

Rural's 5-4 win in the first game of Tuesday's Centennial League doubleheader was one West easily could have won.

The Chargers gave up one big inning to Rural at the plate and saw a couple mental errors defensively prove costly. At the plate, West twice loaded the bases in the game, including with no outs in the seventh inning of a two-run game, and came away with just one run from each of those opportunities.

The scene was a bit familiar for Mastin.

"Our record's 11-7 and a quite a few of those losses have been pretty close where we've either lacked the big hit or made a play on defense we had to make," Mastin said. "It feels good to win a close game like there where we do those things."

Rural starter Zachary Ebert never gave the Chargers much hope in the second game as Rural completed the sweep with a 7-0 win.

With every game crucial coming down the stretch for seeding purposes at next week's Class 6A regional, the sweep -- coupled with a pair of Manhattan losses to Emporia on Tuesday -- was big.

"You definitely look at the regional and how things might play out and mathematically where you stand," Mastin said. "But our regional is so tough it doesn't matter who we'll draw. It's always a little mini-state tournament in itself."

Coming up big in the same situations it did in Tuesday's opener would bode well for the Junior Blues in the postseason. Despite being kept off balance for the first four innings by West starter Skyler Proctor, the Junior Blues trailed just 3-2 before finally breaking through.

Both runs were a bit fortunate as an ill-advised pick-off throw and wild pitch plated both in the third.

In the fifth, however, Rural did the damage itself, stringing together five hits for a three-run inning. Cody Ladson led off with a triple to right and Spencer Howard doubled ahead of three straight singles by Dillon Prokop, Payton Smith and Mitchell Schurig. …

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