Thunderbirds season comes to an end after allowing eight runs in first three innings

Greg Williams
Butler County Times Gazette
Circle High School Thunderbirds Trevor Cowman (25) thrown out at first base after grounding out in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state baseball tournament in Salina, Kansas on Thursday, May 27.

SALINA, Kansas – Towanda-Circle hasn’t given up big and early leads to opponents to start off games. However, that was an issue Thursday night.

Bishop-Miege (16-7) jumped out to an 8-0 lead through three innings and the Thunderbirds could never catch up. Circle ends their season with a 9-5 loss in the first round of the KSHSAA 4A State Baseball Championship Tournament.

The Stags got things going early from their lead-off hitter Rohan Putz. He was able to hit a single to right field and advance to third on Thunderbird errors. Putz would score on a wild pitch during the next at-bat.

Miege wasn’t done yet in the first inning. They were able to get runners on first and second with no outs. Luke Shull would hit a 2-run triple, then Nathan Stanley would drive Shull in for a run.

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“It took of us out of the game early,” said Circle head coach Matt Jordan. “Miege swung the bat well. They came out and attacked the fastball. But, we came back and battled against a good team. I was happy we battled and since we are a young team, we can build off this.”

Circle (15-8) went quickly in the second and third inning, giving Miege opportunities to extend their lead.

The Stags would score four more runs before the Thunderbirds would get on the board.

Thunderbird's Kreede Sheppard hit a hard ground ball to shortstop and Stags Jude Putz threw it to the left of the first baseman, pulling him off the bag. Two runs would come across to score, making it an 8-2 game in the fourth inning.

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Then, in the fifth inning, Circle began to chip away at the Miege lead as they scored another run in the fifth.

In the seventh inning, trailing by six runs, the Thunderbirds weren’t going to go down easily.

Landon Haines drove in a run for the Thunderbirds and after a couple of throws in the infield, Circle had two runners in scoring position with no outs.

The Thunderbirds would get one more run to come across, but that’s all they could get.

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Stag's Victor Christal was giving the Thunderbirds problems all night. The right-hander gave up one earned run, two hits, two walks and struck out 10. The Thunderbirds starter Max Maholland has a tough start with seven earned runs, six hits, three walks and five strikeouts.

“When I first got here, we were known as a losing program,” said Jordan. “These seniors have not had one losing season in their four years. They were a big part of changing the culture, the standards and I know they’ll do some big things off the field.”

The Thunderbirds season ends while the Staggs will face Paola in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament.