After splitting with Collegiate on Monday night, the Circle High School baseball team finished the regular season with 13 wins, the most by any team in Circle baseball history.
Circle began the night with a 10-3 loss, before battling back to take a dramatic game towny a score of 6-5.
After five innings, Collegiate led 3-2. Circle was having no trouble getting baserunners in scoring position, but the T-Birds were unable to find a way to bring runners home.
“We had three different innings where we got runners in scoring position with one out, and couldn’t score any runs,” said Circle head coach Matt Jordan.
“We just couldn’t get them in when we needed to.”
Collegiate broke open a big lead in the top of the sixth, scoring four runs to go up 7-2. The Spartans added three more runs in the top of the seventh to get to double digits. Circle was able to score one more run in the bottom of the seventh, but the hill was too big to climb for the T-Birds in the final inning as Collegiate took game one.
Game two was a back-and-forth battle as the T-Birds’ 13th win of the season may have been one of their toughest.
Gunner Hutson opened up the scoring for the T-Birds in the bottom of the first inning with a sacrifice fly to score Easton Barrier from third base.
In the bottom of the second, Brayden Ketley hit a sacrifice fly to score Landon Myers and give Circle a 2-0 lead after two innings.
After two scoreless innings, Collegiate was able to tie the game in the top of the fifth.
With the game tied at two in the top of the seventh, a Collegiate baserunner was able to score from third on a passed ball. A few pitches later, Collegaite’s Cole Thornton blasted a double int deep centerfield to give Collegiate a 5-2 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Aidan Botcher led off the inning and reached base with a bunt to start the inning. Brayden Ketley reach on a Collegiate error in the next at-bat for the T-Birds.
Two batters later, Lane Coulter was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Gunner Hutson followed up with a single to score one run. Brandon Terrones grounded out for the T-Birds second out, but was able to drive in a run and make it 5-4.
Collegiate’s Cole Thornton had started the game on the mound, but had reached the pitch limit, and had to exit the game with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, with Lane Coulter at third base for the T-Birds.
Easton Unruh came to the plate and quickly fell behind in the count with two strikes.
“When (Lane Coulter) got to third he said he was going to steal home, and I said ‘If we get to two strikes, you’re going,’” said Jordan.
Coulter timed it perfectly. after taking a big lead, he took off before the pitcher even began to wind up. At the plate, Coulter just barely slid under the tag and was safe for the game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
In the top of the eighth inning, Collegiate loaded the bases, but Gunner Hutson got the strikeout to end the inning with the game tied at 5.
In the bottom of the ninth, Brayden Ketley led off with a fly ball to left field that was dropped. Kelley stole third base during the next at-bat, and was able to reach home on a passed ball to score the game-winning run as the T-Birds were finally able to celebrate their 13th win of the season.
Aidan Boettcher led Circle with two hits, both of which were bunts.
Lane Coulter pitched the first four and one-third innings, before Gunner Hutson finished the final four and two-thirds.
“Gunner Hutson threw really, really well for us.” said Jordan.
“He had a couple of situations where he had guys on and he came through for us.
After finishing the regular season 13-7, Circle will begin to prepare for an extremely tough regional tournament that will begin on Monday, May 14 at Augusta High School.
“Situational hitting is definitely going to be on our list of things to work on every day this week,” said Jordan.
The T-Birds will compete against Augusta, Andover Central, Andale/Garden Plain, and El Dorado for a shot at a trip to the 4A-I state tournament in Salina.