FINAL: Maize 1, Free State 0, 8 innings
The top-seeded Maize Eagles have knocked off No. 4 Free State, 1-0, in a Class 6A state baseball semifinal at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Eagles scored the game's lone run in the bottom of the eighth when Ross Cunningham lifted a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Blake Sturgeon, who started the rally with a double inside the line.
Colin Toalson takes the loss for Free State. Conner Knight picks up the victory for Maize.
Maize advances to tonight's Class 6A state final, where they will face Blue Valley. The Firebirds will take on Sunflower League foe SM Northwest in the third-place game.
That contest is expected to begin around 4:15 p.m.
Free State 0, Maize 0, Top 8th
After putting runners at first and second with no outs, the Firebirds were retired three in a row and Maize escaped a major threat from Free State to move to the bottom of the eighth.
Stremel struck out after two attempts at a bunt. Hassig hit a shot to left center that was caught by the center fielder and Kukuk flied out to center to end the inning.
Due up for Maize: 9-1-2.
The Firebirds open the eighth with a single by Michael Lisher, followed by a walk from Cory Delg, to put runners at first and second with no outs.
That was enough for Maize coach Rocky Helm to pull starter Dillon Kearns from the game.
In to pitch is Conner Knight.
Colin Toalson strikes out two Eagles in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings.
For the game, Toalson has K'd seven and given up just four hits.
Due up for Free State: Lisher, Delg, Stremel.
Free State 0, Maize 0, Bottom 7th
Free State's seventh started promising enough as Tim Lewis led off with a single. A sac bunt by Colin Toalson moved him to second and Ryan Scott's groundout to second moved him to third.
Adam Petz then flied out to right on the first pitch of his at-bat.
Maize is now batting in the seventh.
Free State 0, Maize 0, Top 7th
Toalson answers Kearns' strong sixth with one of his own, retiring the Eagles 1-2-3 in the sixth.
To the seventh we go, with the game hanging in the balance.
Free State has managed four hits while limitting Maize to just three.
Due up for the Firebirds: Lewis, Toalson, Scott.
Free State 0, Maize 0, Bottom 6th
Free State was retired in order on three ground balls to the left side in the sixth.
Maize brings its 3-4-5 hitters to the plate in the bottom of the inning.
Free State 0, Maize 0, Top 6th
Free State was retired 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth and ran into serious trouble in the bottom of the inning.
An error by shortstop Bo Schneider put a runner on with no outs and after another batter flied out to left, Thomas Clay singled to right to put runners at first and third with one out.
Inexplicably, the Eagles attempted to bunt in that situation and wound up striking out and flying out to second base to end the inning.
Free State brings the top of the order to the plate in the top of the sixth.
Free State 0, Maize 0, Top 5th
Free State DH Tim Lewis threw up the Firebirds' fourth hit of the game in the fourth but the rest of the inning was relatively uneventful and FSHS left Lewis stranded.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Eagles got one hit and were victimized by a pair of defensive gems by the Firebirds. First, left fielder Nick Hassig's quick jump on the ball robbed JC Sturgeon of a hit. One batter later, Cory Delg bobbled a hot shot to third but recoevered in time to get Ryan McBroom by a step.
The Firebirds rushed off the field with a dose of momentum.
Free State 0, Maize 0, Top 4th
Colin Toalson sits the Eagles down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the third to preserve the scoreless tie heading into the middle innings.
Toalson has three strikeouts and no walks through three innings.
Due up for Free State: Kukuk, Lewis, Toalson.
Free State 0, Maize 0, Bottom 3rd
The Firebirds picked up a pair of singles in the third, with Michael Lisher and Connor Stremel each finding a hole on the left side. But Maize pitcher Dillon Kearns got Hassig to ground into a 6-4 fielder's choice to end the threat.
Maize is batting in the bottom of the third.
Free State 0, Maize 0, Top 3rd
Free State picks up the game's first hit when pitcher Colin Toalson scores an infield single to third, but courtesy runner Preston Schenck is picked off of first and Ryan Scott strikes out to end the threat.
Maize also logged its first base runner of the game, as third baseman J.C. Sturgeon was hit by a pitch. DH Ryan McBroom followed with a base hit to give Maize runners at first and second with two outs.
Conner Knight followed with a single to right field but Firebirds outfielder Cody Kukuk fired a strike to home plate to throw Sturgeon out and end the inning. The ball arrived a few steps before Sturgeon reached home but was up the first base line a bit. FSHS catcher Adam Petz lunged across the plate to tag out a sliding Sturgeon.
Free State is batting in the top of the third.
Free State 0, Maize 0, Top 2nd
A quick first inning for both size helps the pace of play. Neither team threatened in the first and both pitchers got out of the inning without giving up a hit or walking a batter.
Free State is batting in the top of the second.
Another day at Kansas University's Hoglund Ballpark brings another round of delays for the Class 6A state baseball tournament.
Game 1, in which Blue Valley defeated SM Northwest 12-2, lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes.
The Firebirds advanced to the semis with an 11-0, five-inning victory Friday against Wichita Northwest. Junior Cody Kukuk pitched a complete game and struck out 12 to earn the victory.
Maize advanced to the semis with a come-from-behind victory over eighth-seeded Olathe North on Friday.
Colin Toalson will start on the mound for the Firebirds, while Maize counters with Dillon Kearns.
Free State Firebirds 19-4
Connor Stremel, cf
Nick Hassig, lf
Cody Kukuk, rf
Tim Lewis, dh
Colin Toalson, p
Ryan Scott, 2b
Adam Petz, c
Michael Lisher, 1b
Cory Delg, 3b
Senior Bo Schneider is playing shortstop for the Firebirds, who are wearing gray pants and black tops with black hats.
Maize High Eagles 21-2
Blake Sturgeon, 2b
Shaun Reed, ss
Tory Bell, c
Ross Cunningham, lf
Gage Byers, 1b
J.C. Sturgeon, 3b
Ryan McBroom, dh
Conner Knight, rf
Thomas Clay, cf
Dillon Kearns is pitching for the Eagles, who are wearing white pants, red tops and red, black and white caps.
Maize, as the higher seed, is the home team. Free State will bat first.