Free State baseball hangs on late, beats Lawrence High in City Showdown

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Free State senior Maddox Burkitt pitches against Lawrence High at Hoglund Ballpark on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.

The Free State High baseball team took down Lawrence High in a grueling City Showdown, winning 4-3 on Tuesday at Hoglund Ballpark.

Led by Maddox Burkitt’s 11 strikeouts, the Firebirds (13-7) led from the third inning on with Kyle Graves earning the save.

“I’m proud of all the kids,” FSHS head coach Mike Hill said. “Maddox had to dig down in the tank in the fifth inning where he may not usually have to. He showed a lot of guts, and I thought Kyle did the same.”

A scoreless first inning featured two early strikeouts for Burkitt, and he had two more in the top of the second to keep the Lions (13-7) without a run.

Lawrence High’s Ike Cobb delivered a strikeout of his own in the bottom of the second to keep the Firebirds off the scoreboard heading into the third inning. And LHS senior Evan Bannister then drove in a run to give LHS a 1-0 lead.

The Firebirds got their first hit in the bottom of the third on a leadoff single from Will Dawson. That was followed by a bases-loaded walk by Harrison Juhl, and the Firebirds scored two more runs to take a 3-1 lead into the fourth.

Back-to-back strikeouts followed a walk by the Lions’ Sammy Stoll as Burkitt recorded his eighth strikeout in four innings to retire the side. The score remained 3-1.

“It was the cutter most of the time that was working,” Burkitt said. “Hats off to Truman Juelsgaard because he went off today, but the cutter was working.”

LHS cleaned up an overthrown ball to end the fourth inning after Free State’s Jake Patchen was caught stealing third.

Juelsgaard then made it a one-run game in the top of the fifth with a solo home run to left field — this after hitting the base of the wall on a blast to the same spot for a double earlier in the game — but the Firebirds immediately took the momentum back on an RBI single by Burkitt that extended their lead to 4-2 heading into the sixth.

After a two-out walk by the Lions’ Dominic Ostronic, Burkitt completed the top of the sixth inning with a groundout to first base that put his team three outs from a victory.

The Firebirds drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the sixth, but a strikeout by Keyan Crawford kept the Lions’ deficit at two heading into the seventh.

Graves then took the mound for the Firebirds to close the game and quickly recorded the first two outs. Juelsgaard then reached base with an infield single and Bannister made it a one-run game with an RBI double, but a groundout to first ended the game with the tying run left on second base.

“I was confident,” Graves said. “I knew I could get the guy out. I knew I could throw him off balance. I then threw a good pitch and forced him away at first and got the out.”

Both teams now await their postseason seeding for next week’s regionals ahead of this year’s Class 6A state tournament in Fort Scott later this month.

“I think we need to catch our breath here for a day or two,” Hill said. “Coaching-wise, we need to do some scouting. At this time of year, you really start going in on your opponent.”

Free State 4, Lawrence High 3

LHS 001 010 1– 3 5 2

FSHS 003 010 X — 4 6 1

W: Maddox Burkitt. L: Ike Cobb.

Highlights for Free State: Maddox Burkitt 2-for-3, RBI, 2 1B; 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 W, 11 K; Harrison Juhl 1-for-2, RBI, BB, 2B; Mason Lester 1-for-2, RBI, 1B, BB.

Highlights for Lawrence High: Truman Juelsgaard 4-for-4, 1 RBI, 2B, 1 HR, 2 R; Evan Bannister 1-for-4, 1 RBI; Ike Cobb 4 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 2 K.


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