Overland Park Free State High’s baseball team assured itself at least a tie for the Sunflower League title by pounding Shawnee Mission Northwest, 14-2, in a six-inning run-rule game on Tuesday at 3 and 2 fields.
The Firebirds, who were sparked by the five-RBI outburst of Colin Toalson, improved to 10-1 in the league. Lawrence High is 9-1 entering today’s game against SM West. The league does not have a head-to-head tiebreaker system. Free State defeated LHS earlier this season.
Toalson went 3-for-4 with a double and his five RBIs. Preston Schenck was 2-for-5 with two stolen bases and two runs scored. Cody Kukuk was 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs. Tyler Hatesohl was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Hayden Emerson worked the first two innings. He struck out two while allowing two runs off four hits. Ryan Scott worked four innings. He allowed one hit and struck out four.
“It’s been our M.O. to start Hayden and bring Ryan in,” FSHS coach Mike Hill said. “We like Ryan in at the end of the game. We were down, 2-1. With a lot on the line we thought it was the time to go to Ryan.
“Their pitcher got his count up. It was a hit parade at that stage and we got into the bullpen.”
Free State scored two in the fourth, four in the fifth and seven in the sixth.
“The kids were very happy with the accomplishment,” Hill said of winning league for the sixth time in seven years. “It’s not something you want to be the high point of the season. They have other objectives in mind.
“It is a big feather in their cap. For such a young team to go through as many injuries as we have ... to keep it together says a lot about our kids. League titles are important. To win state, you can catch lightning in a bottle three games in two days. To win league and go 10-1 is sustained excellence over an extended period. It’s a compliment to our kids.”
FSHS (16-3) will meet Lawrence High in a non-league game at 7 p.m. Thursday at Kansas University’s Hoglund Ballpark.