FSHS pair on losing Gray team
After loss, Lane, Berner decide to walk on at KU
Saturday’s Kansas Association of Baseball Coaches All-Star Game wasn’t the first time Matt Lane and Matt Berner had played at Hoglund Ballpark.
It won’t be the last, either.
After the Blue team defeated Berner and Lane’s Gray team, 10-6, the recent Free State High graduates accepted invitations from Kansas University coach Ritch Price to be preferred walk-ons next season.
“They’re both very good athletes,” Price said. “They’re also outstanding students and outstanding citizens, and those are the kinds of kids we like to have in our program.”
Berner and Lane, who helped Free State reach the Class 6A state tournament, rejected scholarship offers from several junior colleges.
Price, who led Kansas to its first winning season since 1997 and its first trip to the Big 12 Conference tournament in his first season, was a major factor in their decision.
“It has been my dream to play here,” Lane said. “I’ve been working on it. I wanted to play here, especially with the way the program is headed. He’s an unbelievable coach. I wanted to come to Kansas before he got here. Once he got here, I wanted to come even more.”
Though their postgame chat with Price went as Berner and Lane had hoped, the game did not.
Berner’s two-run single capped a four-run eighth inning, but the Gray team’s rally fell short.
Lane allowed one run in two innings of relief, but he was the most effective of four Gray pitchers.
Concordia’s Jared Goedert got the Blue team going when he doubled to right field and scored in the first inning. He singled and scored on a double by Topeka West’s Daniel Heflin in the third.
“We had the big hits when we needed them,” said Goedert, who will play at Cloud County Community College next season. “Things were really clicking for us.”
The Blue blew the game open in the fourth against Pittsburg Colgan reliever V.J. Van Becelaere. The Blue loaded the bases with two outs on a dropped third strike, a batter hit by a pitch and a walk. Goedert’s single drove in two runs, and Leavenworth’s Jon Bromell capped a four-run outburst with an RBI double that made it 7-0.
The Gray finally scored in the bottom of the fifth when Eudora’s Andrew Pyle reached on an error and later scored on an infield hit by Nick Dallasega of Pittsburg-Colgan.
Heflin’s two-run homer to right made it 9-1 in the seventh.
Heflin has been pondering scholarship offers from Washburn and junior colleges. He said he hoped Price noticed his 3-for-4 effort.
“I hoped I’d open some people’s eyes,” he said. “I haven’t gotten any Division One letters.”
The Blue got one run back in the bottom of the seventh inning when Dallasega hit an inside-the-park homer off the wall in center field.
After the Gray pulled within 9-6 in the bottom of the eighth, the Blue added a run against Lane in the ninth.
Berner and Lane, who have an entire summer of American Legion ball ahead of them with the Lawrence Raiders, weren’t too distraught after the loss.
“We were just trying to come out here and have some fun,” Berner said. “It doesn’t really matter whether you win or lose in an all-star game.”
Blue 10, Gray 6
Blue 102 400 201 — 10 14 3
Gray 000 010 140 — 6 8 2
W–Tych Cowdin (Topeka West). L–Jared Simon (Valley Center).
2B–Blue: Jared Goedert (Concordia), Daniel Heflin (Topeka West), Jon Bromell (Leavenworth). 3B–Gray: Simon. HR–Blue: Heflin; Gray: Nick Dallasega (Pittsburg Colgan).