Cyclones sweep Cards
Eudora bows out of state competition
It just had to be Bishop Ward, didn't it?
The Cyclones ended the seasons of the Eudora Cardinals girls basketball and softball teams. And now the Eudora baseball team can be added to the Cyclone's list of Cardinal casualties.
Ward (16-5) earned an opportunity to defend its state title by defeating Eudora (18-5) 3-1 in the regional championship game Thursday in Eudora.
"Anytime you lose, you're disappointed," head coach Dirk Kinney said. "But at the same time I'm proud because nobody in this school thought we had a chance against these guys."
The story of the game was Eudora's junior starter Joe Kaup. Kinney sent his No. 3 starter to the mound for the most important baseball game of his tenure.
Junior Rod Evinger pitched a complete game earlier in the day as Eudora cruised past Piper (10-12) 14-4 in six innings.
And senior Chris Gabriel wasn't at full strength yet following his 5-2 win against Tonganoxie the previous Monday.
Nevertheless, most people expected to see the seasoned senior take the mound versus Ward.
"Parents between the first and second game thought I was crazy to start (Kaup)," Kinney said. "But it's one of those times you wake up on the side of the bed and say 'I'm going to start Joe today.'"
It was a high risk, high reward moment for Kinney. If Kaup was anything less than sensational Kinney would surely have received ramped criticism.
But Kaup was indeed sensational. Ward had scored a combined 35 runs in its first two regional contests. Kaup allowed just three runs while striking out seven.
His poise was rare, and his curve was nearly un-hittable.
"(Kaup) was awesome," Kinney said. "I couldn't have asked for more from a kid that didn't even know he was starting the game until he got to the ballfield.
"He was inconsistent at times this year, but he came out ready to pitch tonight, and I can't be more proud of that kid."
Kaup's gutsy effort embodied the Cardinal's spirit of competition Thursday night.
"I left it all out there and did the best I could," Kaup said. "I was nervous, but I was excited. I have had a hard time this year with being nervous. I just tried to do my best to stay clam."
Time and time again, Kaup -- backed by sound defense -- denied the vaunted Cyclone offense from mounting any momentum.
Eudora's young shortstop Kyle Brouhard was especially impressive matching skills with Cyclone shortstop, junior Terry Roblez.
"(Brouhard) played so well," Kinney said. "I thought he was spectacular. And especially for a sophomore to play at that level is great."
Eudora just failed to generate any offense.
The Cards managed just four hits. Their lone run came in the third. Brouhard led off with a double off the left field wall. Junior Paul Smith's clutch two-out hit later in the inning scored Brouhard, giving the Cards a brief 1-0 lead.
Ward answered with two in the fourth and one in the fifth.
"I feel for my seniors," Kinney said. "I think my younger kids know how good they can be if they keep working."
"Hopefully the younger kids will see how bad these guys hurt and understand a little bit better what it takes to play at the next level. I've said it before; to be the best you have to beat the best."
That senior group includes catcher Troy Van Horn.
"That's the most exciting time I've ever had in my life...it was awesome," he said. "I'm just sorry we couldn't stick it out and make it happen.
"It's a terrible feeling. We worked so hard all season to get here and then it just slips away."
Eudora did manage to exorcise a demon from the previous season. The Cardinals' 2003 campaign came to an end at the hands of the Piper Pirates.
This year the tables were turned.
A normally fundamentally sound Piper squad collapsed under five errors and a nightmarish first inning.
Senior Pirate starter Matt Mosier was staked to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. But he didn't hold that lead long.
Mosier lasted only 2/3 of an inning, allowing six runs on just one hit. He walked six batters and hit two before his quick exit.
"They jumped on us 2-0 but we just came back and played how we play," Kinney said. "We did the little things. We took advantage of the walks, we didn't make any errors, and we took advantage of theirs."
The Cardinals scored in all but the fifth inning, coasting to the 14-4 run-rule route.
Eudora will look to exact the same sort of vengeance on Ward next year.