Pittsburg — Lawrence's Raiders won a game shortened by run rule in the opener, then plated a run in the bottom of the ninth in the nightcap to stay alive at the American Legion state baseball tournament on Sunday.
After routing Hays, 11-1 in seven innings, Sunday morning, the Raiders slipped past Blue Valley Northwest, 9-8, late Sunday night to keep their state title hopes alive.
"It was one of the most exciting games I've been a part of," Raiders coach Shaun Edmondson said of the Blue Valley Northwest contest. "We were behind the entire game until the bottom of the ninth."
BV Northwest, which sent the Raiders to the loser's bracket with an 8-4 victory over Lawrence in Friday's first round, bolted to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning Sunday.
Though Edmondson likely would have been excused for yanking starter Tom Schuh, he stuck with him, and Schuh responded with an eight-inning outing during which he surrendered just three more runs the rest of the way.
Joe Kornbrust technically picked up the win with a hitless ninth.
"That was one of the most impressive performance's I've been a part of," Edmondson said. "Schuh threw eight innings. He threw 50 pitches the day before. It was as gutty as can be. It was one of those things where you know what you're going to get out of him. He'll throw strikes and compete. Our mission isn't to get third place or fourth. Our mission is to win, and we need to save our pitching to win the whole thing. That's why it was so gutty. I could have hooked him. It probably would have been the right coaching decision. But he was impressive."
Tied at 8 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Raiders' Aaron Rea led off with a single, stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. After BVNW walked Kornbrust and Ben Wilson to load the bases, Travis Sanders singled to end it.
The Hays game had no such drama.
After staking Hays to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, the Raiders rallied with single runs in the second and third innings, pulled away with four runs each in the fourth and fifth and ended it early due to the run rule with a run in the seventh.
Lawrence will face Olathe South at 5 p.m. today in an elimination game. The winner of that game will face undefeated Pittsburg in the first championship game immediately after the conclusion of the 5 p.m. game.