CHAMPS AGAIN: Lancers secure portion of Sunflower League title, turn attention to Regionals

The Lancers gathered at home plate to congratulate Luke Anderson (holding his helmet on the right) after he belted a first inning grand slam.
The Lancers gathered at home plate to congratulate Luke Anderson (holding his helmet on the right) after he belted a first inning grand slam.

More scouts. More fireworks.

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SM East vs. St. James Academy

• Lancers Senior Day Game is today
• 4 p.m. at SM East
• Lancers can secure Regionals home field advantage with a win today against St. James or tomorrow against SM South.[/pullquote]

The talent-packed Lancers baseball team didn’t disappoint before a home crowd on the SM East field hill Tuesday, wrapping up a share of this year’s Sunflower League title with a 10-0 win over SM South. The pack of professional baseball scouts that have been following the team all year were once again huddled behind home plate, aiming their radar guns at the arm of senior Joey Wentz, who has been creeping up projections lists for this summer’s Major League Baseball draft. Scouts from the Mets, Royals, A’s, Cardinals and Nationals, among other teams, have come out to SM East over the past several weeks to get a look at Wentz, who is expected to be taken fairly high in the first round.

On Tuesday, he showed why. Wentz struck out 13 over five innings of work (the game was called after the fifth under the mercy rule), slamming 90-plus mile per hour fastballs past the Raiders.

Things didn’t necessarily look so smooth out of the gate, though. SM South’s first two batters — Alex Renfrew and Trevor Johnson — managed to smack back-to-back singles off Wentz, who hasn’t given up more than a hit a game all season.

“South came ready to play,” said Lancers coach Jerrod Ryherd. “They put two hits up on Joey. He hasn’t given up two hits all year, and they got two hits their first two batters.”

Wentz quickly settled in, though, getting out of the first without allowing the runners to advance — and then proceeding to retire the Raiders without allowing another baserunner all afternoon.

The showcase didn’t stop with Wentz’s pitching arm, though. He blasted a three-run home run in the first inning, plating Jake Randa and Luke Anderson. Anderson wasn’t finished making an impact in the first inning, however. The Lancers had already scored six in the first inning when Anderson came up to bat again, this time with the bases loaded. He drove Raiders’ starter Matt Cashman’s pitch over the left field fence for a grand slam, the final piece of scoring in a 10-run inning for SM East.

Ryherd had set three goals for his team at the outset of the season: to win the Sunflower League, to host a Regionals game, and to win the school’s third state title. The win over SM South meant SM East would again be co-Sunflower League champs alongside Olathe South. And with a win today over St. James Academy or a win Thursday over SM South, they’ll accomplish goal number two.

Ryherd said Wentz and Zebulon Vermillion are likely to start the Regionals games for the Lancers, having been the team’s best pitchers all year.

Wentz fanned 13 Raiders batters over five innings of work.
Wentz fanned 13 Raiders batters over five innings of work.
Luke Anderson was all smiles after knocking out a first inning grand slam.
Luke Anderson was all smiles after knocking out a first inning grand slam.
Wentz's three-run homer in the first inning put the Lancers on the board.
Wentz’s three-run homer in the first inning put the Lancers on the board.
Coach Jarrod Ryherd is looking to take SM East back to the state tournament for the third year in a row.
Coach Jarrod Ryherd is looking to take SM East back to the state tournament for the third year in a row.