Matt Tait’s state baseball notebook
Lenexa ? History repeating
Thirteen years ago, the 1996 Lawrence High baseball team won the first state baseball championship in school history. The parallels between the ’96 team and LHS’s newest state champion are uncanny.
For starters, both teams entered the state tournament at 18-4 and finished the season 21-4. In addition, both teams had won 13 games in a row entering the state tournament and finished the season winners of 16 straight. Lastly, the ’96 squad won its title at 3&2 Baseball Complex in Lenexa, the very same spot this year’s team won its title.
Lions walk the walk
All season, several members of the LHS baseball team said quietly that their one and only goal this season was to win the state title. Anything less, they said, would be a failure.
This weekend, not only did the Lions accomplish their goal, they did so in convincing fashion.
LHS outscored its opponents 24-3 at the 2009 state tournament, outhitting Blue Valley, Goddard and Shawnee Mission West 27-7 in the process.
Eyeing a repeat in 2010?
Saturday’s game against SM West was the finale for nine LHS seniors. But after the game, several of the underclassmen were already talking about repeating the feat next season.
Despite losing nine seniors, the Lions will return nine players who played a part in this year’s title. Included among them are Saturday’s starters Albert Minnis, Landon Moseley, Tanner Kilmer and Jack Bush.
Because of their ability to shut people down on the mound and swing the bats at the plate, a lot of the little things the Lions do get lost in the shuffle. None of those little things, however, proved to be quite as big as the play of first baseman Tanner Kilmer this weekend.
In addition to joining the Lions’ hit parade — Kilmer hit .429 this weekend with 4 runs scored and 2 RBIs — Kilmer made several critical plays at first base that either saved outs or prevented more damage. Never was that more true than during the early innings of Saturday’s title game, when Kilmer continually used his gold glove and nifty footwork to save outs at first base.
In addition, Kilmer delivered what proved to be the game-winning RBI when he drove in Tyler Bailey with a single in the fourth inning.
Stoll, the show
LHS coach Brad Stoll becomes the third skipper in school history to deliver a state title. He joins Lynn Harrod (1996) and David Petry (2000) as the only LHS coaches to accomplish the feat.
Lawrence High benefited greatly from one of the rarest calls in baseball. With LHS trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Jake Green appeared to have flied out to shortstop but was ruled safe when SM West catcher Nick Lichtenberger was called for catcher’s interference.
According to the official rules of Major League Baseball, catcher’s interference “is an act by a fielder which hinders or prevents a batter from hitting a pitch.” As Lichtenberger attempted to catch a pitch, Green swung at it and Lichtenberger’s glove made contact with Green’s bat.
Green was immediately awarded first base and pinch runner Chris Parker moved to second. Instead of having a runner on first with one out, the Lions had runners at first and second with no outs. On the next at-bat Bailey delivered with a two-run double that tied the game.