Eudora nabs league title
Team starts regional play Monday as No. 1 seed
In the last chilly days of March, the Eudora Cardinal baseball squad began the season with a 9-1 win over Paola.
Eudora book-ended the 2005 campaign Tuesday with another victory.
This time however, besides the marks in the win column, the team earned a little bit of distinction as well -- a share of the Frontier League championship with Spring Hill.
Eudora completed the season with a doubleheader sweep of the De Soto Wildcats, 11-9, 19-11, to gain the title, its first under coach Dirk Kinney.
The Cardinals needed a victory in game one to secure the top spot and the bats came alive early in the effort.
In the first inning, junior Chad Griffin got things going for the visiting Cardinals by driving a Leif Goleman pitch over the center field wall, giving Eudora a 1-0 lead. Seniors Paul Smith and Cole Massey followed with singles before junior shortstop Kyle Brouhard reached on an error. Both Smith and Massey scored on the De Soto miscue to stretch the first inning lead to 3-0.
Senior left-hander Rod Evinger took the mound for the Cardinals and was forced to work his way out of his own first inning jam. With one out and two on, De Soto's Taylor Burnett lined a ball back to the mound. Evinger quickly turned the good fortune into an inning-ending double play.
"He (Evinger) battled for us," Kinney said. "He didn't walk anybody, and he did what he was supposed to do."
Still leading 3-0, the Cards struck again in the third. Evinger helped his own cause at the plate by leading off with a single to right, which was followed by a Joe Kaup double. Junior second baseman Miles Cleveland then singled up the middle, scoring two runs and giving the Cards a 5-0 lead.
The Wildcats managed to get on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the inning as Colby Childers manufactured a run on two steals, cutting the lead to 5-1.
After extending the lead to 8-1 with a three-run fourth, Evinger ran into problems.
The Wildcats added a pair of runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth, cutting the lead to 8-5 and knocking Evinger out of the game.
"He (Rod) got tired really quick," catcher Massey said. "His curve ball wasn't working well, and he got into trouble."
Senior Joe Kaup came on in relief and got Eudora out of the inning.
The Cards took the momentum back in the top of the sixth with two more runs, as Massey hit a two-run single with the bases loaded.
However, the Wildcats weren't done.
The home team rallied back with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, pulling to within a run at 10-9.
A rattled Kaup battled through and put out the fire.
"Joe was throwing strikes," Kinney said. "That's what I wanted him to do, so I wasn't going to mess with him."
The Cardinals got an insurance run in the top of the seventh as Luke Abel and Cleveland both walked, bringing Mark Abel to the plate.
Abel promptly doubled to left center and gave Eudora a little bit of breathing room with an 11-9 lead.
Kaup regrouped and pitched around a two-out error in the bottom of the seventh, securing the victory, the title and the No. 1 seed in next week's regional tournament at the T-Bone's stadium in Kansas City, Kan.
"This is something we've worked on ever since we started playing varsity," Massey said. "It's so good for us to do something like this our senior year."
Evinger earned the win, while Kaup captured his second save of the year.
Game two saw the Cardinals and Wildcats engage in some sloppy play as both squads gave up huge innings in the Eudora victory.
After trailing 5-0, De Soto took its first lead of the day with a three-run third and a six-run fourth.
Although the title was in hand, those innings didn't sit well with the head coach.
"We were just kicking the ball around out there," Kinney said. "Those were a couple of the worst innings I think we've played all year."
Eudora wasn't finished.
Trailing 9-5, the Cardinals slapped the Wildcats with a nine-run fifth and five more in the sixth to seal the 19-11 victory.
"Even though those innings were bad, we still battled and got the job done." Kinney said. "I'm proud of them, but we've got some work to do."
Paul Smith went four innings for the victory and improved his mark to 5-0.
Sophomore Kent Swanson came on in relief and delivered three innings with five strike outs.
Kyle Brouhard went 3-for-5 in the second game while Cole Massey was 3-for-4.
The Cardinals outlasted the Baldwin Bulldogs 9-7 on senior night Thursday at Eudora.
The Cardinals overcame five errors and a four-run Baldwin third to give Kaup his fourth win of the year.
Smith belted out three RBI's while junior Luke Abel was 2-for-3 from the plate.
After the victory, the Cardinals said goodbye to five seniors in their final home game.
Smith, Massey, Kaup, Derin Stewart and Evinger helped Eudora compile a record of 50-12 over the last three seasons.
Eudora (18-2) earned a number one seed in next week's regional playoffs and will face the No. 8 seed Tonganoxie at 1 p.m. Monday at the T-Bones Stadium in Kansas City, Kan. The No. 4 seed Piper (13-7) will take on No. 5 seed De Soto (13-7) at 3 p.m.
The No. 3 seed Sumner Academy (10-5) will take on No. 6 seed Bonner Springs (8-12) at 5 p.m. No. 2 seed Bishop Ward (15-3) will face No. 7 seed Basehor-Linwood (7-12) at 7 p.m.
The winner of the Eudora-Tonganoxie game will face the winner of the Piper-De Soto game in the semi-final round Wednesday. The winner of the Bishop Ward-Basehor Linwood game will face the winner of the Sumner Academy-Bonner Springs game. The times have not been set.
The winners of the two semi-final games will play for the championship at 7 p.m. Wednesday.