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Archive for Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Firebirds to face tough field at state

Free State to open Class 6A baseball tournament against host Maize

May 27, 2003

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On paper, there are no slouches in the Class 6A state baseball tournament.

That includes Free State.

The Firebirds own a glossy 18-3 record, yet earned only the No. 4 seed in the Friday-Saturday state meet in Maize, a Wichita suburb.

"I think the cream of the crop will be there," Free State coach Mike Hill said Monday, "so I don't know if the seeding is that relevant."

What may be relevant, Hill thought, is the fact the Firebirds have drawn Maize as their first-round opponent at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

"To play the host team at their own ballpark," Hill said. "That's not fun."

Maize, the No. 5 seed, has an 18-4 record. Top-seeded Manhattan (19-2) will open against No. 8 seed Shawnee Mission West (15-7) at 11 a.m.

The other two first-round games will pit No. 2 seed Wichita Heights (18-2) against No. 7 SM Northwest (16-6) and No. 3 Blue Valley West (19-3) against No. 6 Hutchinson (14-4).

If the Firebirds win Friday, they'll meet the Manhattan-SM West winner at 10 a.m. Saturday. If they lose, their season will be over.

Saturday's other semifinal will be at 12:30 p.m.

The third-place game is set for 3 p.m. Saturday with the championship clash slated for 5:30 p.m.











At Maize Sports ComplexFriday's Games11 a.m. -- Manhattan (19-2) vs. Shawnee Mission West (15-7).1:30 p.m. -- Free State (18-3) vs. Maize (18-4).4 p.m. -- Wichita Heights (18-2) vs. Shawnee Mission Northwest (16-6).6:30 p.m. -- Blue Valley West (19-3) vs. Hutchinson (14-4).Saturday's Games10 a.m. -- Manhattan-SM West winner vs. Free State-Maize winner, 10 a.m.12:30 p.m. -- Wichita Heights-SM Northwest winner vs. BV West-Hutchinson winner.3 p.m. -- Third place5:30 p.m. -- Championship

The Firebirds practiced Monday afternoon and will practice again today, Wednesday and Thursday morning before leaving for Maize on Thursday afternoon.

Free State hasn't played since last Tuesday night when the Firebirds spilled Lawrence High, 5-1, for the 6A regional championship.

Senior shortstop Matt Berner sparked the school's first trip to the state tournament by going 7-for-7 in the two regional games. Berner drove in four runs and scored four. Berner, a three-year starter, is one of 11 seniors on the squad.

Matt Lane, a senior right-hander with an 8-1 record, is the Lions' probable starter in Friday's state tournament opener.

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