KOSSUTH – Hatley rebounded to win Game 2 of their second-round Class 3A playoff series against defending 3A champion Kossuth, but the Aggies turned on the offense in Game 3 to take the series with a 9-4 win.
In the sixth, Bonee and Stacy extended the lead with back-to-back RBI doubles.
“Kossuth started hitting it and making things happen,” Hatley coach John Harris said. “Every time we would get an out, they would follow with a couple of hits. When we got people on and had chances, we couldn’t get the big hit or hit into double plays. That made it tough.”
Hatley scored in the first when Cody Dunigan walked and scored when Brock Kidd reached on an error.
Kossuth answered in the bottom half. Wilcher singled leading off, Beau Lee doubled to put runners on the corners, and Charlie Bonee grabbed the RBI with a groundout and another scored on a wild pitch.
The Aggies clinged to the one-run lead until the fourth when Wilcher blasted a two-run shot to right field.
Higgs carried a no-hitter into the fifth, but the Tigers broke that up and clawed their way back in on a two-run single by Will Cantrell after Dunigan was hit by a pitch and Kidd and Matt Swan drew walks.
“Their pitcher (Higgs) threw a really good game, and every time we had pressure on him, he stayed calm and got out of the inning,” Harris said. “He did everything they needed him to.”
Kossuth added some insurance in the bottom half. Zack Stacy led off with a double, and Higgs drove him in with an RBI single. Cooper smashed the second long ball of the game to put the Aggies up 7-3.
Hatley had its chances in the final two innings. In the sixth, they had two on after a base hit by Avery Benson and a walk to Camron Wright but a double play ended the threat. The Tigers loaded the bases in the seventh on walks but were only able to add one run on Holden Clark’s grounder to short.
“Blake (Goodin) pitched well overall. They had a couple of home runs, one was oppo, so not just bad pitches,” Harris said. “They just hit, and good teams do those things. They know how to win and compete, and they will do that through the playoffs. I’m proud of our guys. We’ve dealt with a lot this year. No excuses, and today wasn’t our day offensively. We had a good year.”
Game 2: Hatley 5, Kossuth 3
Before Saturday, sophomore Matt Swan had hit two home runs for Hatley. His third of the season may have been the biggest hit of the year for the Tigers.
Facing elimination and tied 3-3 in the fifth, Swan’s homer provided the winning margin to keep the Tigers’ hope alive.
Hatley starter Brock Kidd threw one pitch and got one out in the top of the first on a fly ball to left. A ground ball to short and a strikeout got the Aggies in order.
Cody Dunigan reached on an error with one out in the bottom of the first and got to third on a shot to the wall by Kidd. Dunigan raced to the plate on a wild pitch to put Hatley up 1-0.
Both teams got runners into scoring position in the second, but neither could get the runners home and Kossuth came to bat in the top of the third still trailing 1-0. The Aggies took advantage of a two-out error and used a single, a double and a successful bunt to take a 2-1 lead.
The Tigers went down in order in the bottom of the third and the Aggies threatened again in the top of the fourth. After a leadoff walk, Blake Goodin snagged a line drive at shortstop and threw to first for a double play. Kossuth stayed alive with a single, but Hatley catcher Avery Benson caught the runner stealing at second to end the threat.
The Tigers stranded a runner at third in the bottom of the fourth and Kossuth added a run in the top of the fifth after a leadoff double and a base hit.
Trailing 3-1, Camron Wright reached on an error leading off the fifth and moved to second on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Goodin. Dunigan beat out an infield hit, and Kidd tied the game with a two-run double to left. Chance McNeese went in to run for Kidd and was on second when Swan came to the plate.
“With a runner on second and two strikes, I was looking for anything close to put the ball in play,” Swan said.
What he got was an inside fastball and sent it screaming over the left field wall for a two-run homer.
“I didn’t know it had gone out until I saw Coach Harris raise his arms in the third base box,” Swan added.
The Aggies got a two-out double in the top of the sixth, but Kidd got out of the inning on a come-backer to the mound.
In the seventh, Kidd got the first batter out on a grounder to Goodin, but Swan had to cover a lot of ground and make a diving catch for the second out. The next batter singled, but another groundout to Goodin ended the game.
“My stuff wasn’t overpowering tonight,” Kidd said. “My fastball was working, so I tried to keep the ball low and make them hit ground balls. I knew my defense would be there.”
“It wasn’t our best game,” Hatley coach John Harris said. “But we were able to make a play, get a hit or an out when we had to have it.”
Game 1: Kossuth 6, Hatley 2
The Tigers were limited to two hits, one each by Matt Swan and Camron Wright, by Kossuth starter Nik Wilcher.
Hatley scored its runs in the second inning on an error and a fielder’s choice by Avery Benson.