On paper, the game means little. But Lawrence High-Free State baseball games aren't played on paper.
"It means a lot more than records," the Lions' Will Falk said after Thursday night's crosstown battle at Hoglund Ballpark was suspended by rain.
Free State had just taken a 5-4 lead on a passed ball in the top of the fourth inning. Moments later, with the Firebirds' Lorenzo Ricketts at the plate, the game was halted.
When play resumes -- scheduled at 5:30 p.m. today at KU's stadium -- Ricketts again will be at the plate with Brett Lisher at third base and one out.
"We're certainly going to try to get it in," Free State coach Mike Hill said. "The kids want to play, and the fans want it. If we can't get it in tomorrow, we'll try to get it in Saturday."
Free State (16-3) already has clinched the Sunflower League championship and will play at home next week as the No. 2 seed in its Class 6A sub-state. Lawrence High (8-11) can't earn a seed higher than fourth and probably will have to travel to Manhattan for sub-state competition.
"The game really doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things," Lions' coach Brad Stoll said, "but for bragging rights, it's important to the kids."
Free State won the earlier meeting, 8-3, but it was clear from the outset that Lawrence High came to play. The Lions plated a couple of runs in the first inning after catcher Brett Sims stroked an RBI double, and Free State starter Jake Hoover walked Mike Sickinger with the bases loaded.
A two-run single by Robbie Price knotted the count in the top of the second, but Lawrence High quickly regained a two-run advantage after Nick Madl singled, Matt Falk doubled and both runners scored when Hoover threw wild to first on Marc Albers' slug bunt down the third-base line.
Hoover settled down in the third, retiring the Lions in order.
"With the crosswind, I think my ball was off by three inches," said Hoover, a senior right-hander. "I finally stepped over on the mound, and got three in a row."
Lawrence led 4-2 behind left-hander David Freeman, the Lions' closer who was making a rare start. Freeman surrendered six hits in the first three innings, but also fanned three and left five Firebirds on base.
"David was effective. He had some good stuff," Stoll said.
However, Free State began to break through in the fourth. Andy Petz reached on an error by first baseman Will Falk. Then, after Nick Ayre skied to center, Price drew a walk, and Anthony Dreiling loaded the bases with a line single to left.
Minutes later, Brett Lisher drove in a pair with a line single to right-center that forged a 4-4 deadlock. Then, with Ricketts at the plate, a Freeman pitch eluded Sims, and Dreiling crossed the plate before lightning was spotted and the game suspended.
Originally scheduled for Ice Field, the game was moved after Thursday morning's rain drenched the diamond in Holcom Complex.
KU coach Ritch Price, whose youngest son is the Firebirds' shortstop, came to the rescue and offered the use of Hoglund Ballpark.
With the Jayhawks playing this weekend at Missouri, KU's field would be available tonight and Saturday, if needed.