SM East’s baseball team is heading to the 6A state tournament at Hoglund Park in Lawrence for the second year in a row. And this time, says Coach Jerrod Ryherd, his team has the experience and talent to make a strong push for the title.
With an 11-0 drubbing of Gardner-Edgerton in the first game and a 6-1 victory over Blue Valley and top pitcher Ryan Cyr in the regionals final hours later, SM East earned its spot in the eight-team state bracket.
“Our goal is to win state – that’s been our focus all year,” said coach Jerrod Ryherd. “Last year we got there and lost in the first game. This year we want to take the next step. We’ve got the team to do it this year. We’ve got the experience.”
The Lancers on Monday put together two total team efforts, with pitchers Zeb Vermillion and Max Sanborn combining for 13 innings of shutout baseball. The only run the Lancers surrendered all day was in the bottom of the seventh inning against Blue Valley as pitcher Henry Miller worked to close the game out.
Cyr stymied the Lancers through the first three innings of the regional championship. But in the bottom of the fourth, right fielder Jake Randa snuck a single through the infield, and was advanced to second moments later when Charley White laid a perfect bunt down the left field line that allowed him to reach first. Both batters were advanced a base after Cyr was called for a balk. Luke Anderson’s single in the next at bat brought Randa home, opening the Lancers scoring on the night. They plated another in the fourth, and added two runs each in both the fifth and sixth.
And in a good sign for the team’s prospects at state, Joey Wentz, the Lancers’ feared hitter who had been sidelined the final week of the regular season with arm fatigue, was back in the lineup for SM East Monday, knocking a double in his first at bat against Gardner-Edgerton.
“It’s nice to have that threat in the lineup,” Ryherd said.
The Lancers will open state play next Thursday, May 28 at Hoglund Park on the campus of the University of Kansas. The bracket has yet to be released by the KSHSAA.