On the strength of a seven-inning, one-hit performance from senior pitcher Max Sanborn, SM East’s baseball team on Tuesday achieved something no Lancers squad has in 29 years: Earning at least a share of the Sunflower League regular season crown.
The Lancers still have two games to go before post-season play begins, but with wins over district rivals SM North on Monday and SM South Tuesday, the Lancers extended their winning streak to 12 games and solidified their number one state ranking.
“Things are rolling pretty good,” said sixth-year head coach Jerrod Ryherd. “We’ve got a lot of good team chemistry and a lot of good players on this team.”
Sanborn, who has committed to play for Pittsburg State University next year, was dominant from the start, striking out eight and keeping the Raiders batters who did manage to make contact mostly on the ground and out of the outfield gaps.
“I owe it to my defense,” Sanborn said after the game. “I didn’t strike 21 guys out.”
The Lancers offense got rolling with a sacrifice bunt from sophomore Jake Randa in the fourth inning that plated the first run of the game. A big hit from senior Sam Williams in the fifth drove in a second run, and William scored minutes later, dashing from third base as the Raiders tried to pick off a steal at second base.
Ryherd said his team was able to stay focused on the goal of winning the league title even after a rocky start.
“It really was one of our goals when we started the season,” he said. “We started out 1-2 in league, and I told them let’s don’t even worry about that, let’s just worry about winning one game at a time. And that’s what we’ve done.”
The Lancers will face BV Southwest Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at BV Southwest. Ryherd said sophomore Zeb Vermillion is likely to start that game. Then SM East will wrap up its regular season against St. James Academy at the Mid-America Sports Complex Thursday at 5:30 p.m.