Lenexa Few baseball players ever have slammed a walk-off home run in the third inning.
Dorian Green did Friday in Lawrence High’s astonishing football-scoreish, 17-0 run-rule romp over defending state champion Blue Valley in the quarterfinals of the Class 6A tournament.
At the same time, Green’s smash over the right-field fence at Johnson County 3&2 Complex was the first home run of his varsity career.
“That’s like the first since my freshman year when I was on the C-team,” Green said, smiling. “I don’t know where that came from.”
Green was mobbed by his teammates afterward, and now he’s hoping for another mob scene today. But for a different reason.
Green, who played center field Friday, will be on the mound at 10 a.m. today when the Lions tangle with Goddard in a semifinal — Lawrence’s third appearance in the semis in the last three years.
Lawrence lost the first two, and Green was on the mound each time. This time, however, he doesn’t plan to be a common denominator.
“I feel great,” Green said. “We just have to build off this momentum.”
Brad Stoll thinks Green is ready, too. In fact, the Lions’ coach all but guaranteed the 6-foot-1 senior right-hander will end his semifinal losing streak today against the suburban-Wichita Lions.
“He’ll be so locked in. I’ll bet the house on that,” Stoll said, then added with a smile: “But don’t tell my wife.”
If Green is as focused today as Lawrence’s hitters were Friday, Stoll’s family digs are safe.
The Lions rode into this state meet on a 13-game win streak. During that span, they had averaged only about four runs a game. Typically, they managed only five runs in posting a pair of one-run victories over Topeka High and Free State in the regional qualifiers.
But they looked like window breakers against the stunned Tigers by bashing 13 hits, including eight for extra bases. Albert Minnis had two big blows — three-run home runs over the left-field fence in the first and second innings.
Otherwise, in addition to Green’s game-over homer, Tyler Bailey, Tanner Kilmer and Clint Pinnick stroked doubles, and Aaron Rea and Jake Green pounded triples.
Every Lion who batted had at least one hit except No. 9 hitter Landon Mosley, but Mosley scored twice and drove in a run with a fielder’s choice.
“Hitting is contagious,” Stoll said. “We proved that today. And to do it to the defending state champs was a great statement.”
Added Rea, the Lions’ shortstop and the Sunflower League player of the year: “We know we can hit. We knew it was just a matter of time. I just didn’t know it would be on this big a stage.”
In the other dugout, Blue Valley coach Matt Ortman was baffled by his hurlers’ lack of command.
“Our pitchers couldn’t get ahead,” Ortman said. “They were 2-0 and 1-0 on every hitter and had to throw a fastball, and any team can hit a fastball.”
Starter and loser Corey Chesley walked the first two Lions and wound up surrendering seven runs in just 1 2/3 innings. Senior right-hander Tyler VanGerpen wasn’t much better, giving six earned runs. Then the Lions teed off on junior right-hander Ryne Stanek for their final four tallies.
“They got on a roll,” Ortman said of the Lions, “and all of a sudden the game was over.”
Now the Lions (19-4) are faced with a familiar semifinal hurdle and theoretically may wish they had saved some of those runs for Goddard.
“You’ve just got to flush today,” Rea said, “and carry the momentum over. We won’t be satisfied with what we did today.”
Stoll has sensed the same resolve from his players.
“There’s only one thing they want now,” the Lions’ coach said, “and they aren’t going to let anybody get in their way.”