Eudora rally falls short at state
SABETHA – It was only fitting that the two dueling starting pitchers faced each other in the bottom of the seventh with two outs and the game on the line.
Eudora’s left-handed starter Bryan Dudley had just ripped a double down the right field line off Doniphan County starter and fellow southpaw Colin Greaser in his last at-bat in the bottom of sixth. Dudley then stole third and stole home on a double steal to pull Eudora within a run.
But in the seventh, with the tying Eudora run at second and the go-ahead-run at first, Dudley fell behind two strikes. But Dudley didn’t bite on two of Greaser’s nasty sliders and evened the count. Greaser, though, delivered one more slider that broke under Dudley’s swing, and Greaser notched his 16th strikeout to earn a complete-game 3-2 win over Eudora’s AA Legion team in the first round of the AA state tournament Thursday at Somerset Park in Sabetha.
“You try and put the kids in a situation to win, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen,” said Eudora assistant coach Paul Houle, who filled in for head coach Shaun Edmondson who had to miss the game because of jury duty. “Their kid threw a good game. He deserves credit. He had 16 strikeouts on us, so anytime you have 16 strikeouts, it’s tough to move guys and get guys on and try to score. He deserves credit for throwing a great game.”
Greaser allowed just two hits to go with five walks and his 16 Ks. Dudley also gave up just two hits to go with seven walks and seven strikeouts in his five innings. Eudora’s Craig Harper pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Dudley.
Dudley went 1-for-4 at the plate, and catcher Tyler Beebe had Eudora’s other hit – an RBI single that scored Harper in the bottom of the first.
“He (Greaser) had a slider that everyone was just a little bit thrown off,” Dudley said. “Usually we see curveballs and change-ups, and he was throwing mostly sliders. And that’s a totally different pitch to hit than a curve.”
In the early going, Dudley had a no-hitter through 3 1/3 innings before his strong start started to unravel.
Dudley, who struck out the side to open the first and scattered three harmless walks and no runs through the first three innings, walked the leadoff batter in the fourth and threw a wild pitch that allowed the runner to advance to second.
After a strikeout, Dudley gave up an RBI single to center that tied the game at 1. The next Doniphan County batter put down a sac but near the pitcher’s mound, but Dudley threw wildly to first and Doniphan had runners in scoring position.
After another walk loaded the bases, Dudley came back with a strikeout. But another walk forced in a run and Doniphan led, 2-1.
A leadoff walk to Doniphan’s Justin Hawkins also proved troublesome in the fifth. Hawkins later scored from second when Eudora had a Doniphan runner caught in a pickle between first and second. Hawkins kept running, and Eudora’s throw to the plate was a bit high and late and Doniphan scored what would be the game-winning run.
“It’s like I told the team in the post-game speech, the margin of error at state is so small you just can’t make mistakes like that,” Houle said. “But they’ll learn.”
Eudora battled back late, as first baseman Jared Ireland coaxed a walk to leadoff the seventh. Third baseman David Pierce put down a perfect sac bunt to advance Ireland to second. Chase Brecheisen then drew a four-pitch walk to put the go-ahead run at first with the top of the lineup due up for the Cardinals and just one out. But Greaser struck out Evan Cleveland and Dudley to finish the game.
“I personally felt pretty confident in that situation,” Houle said. “We’re right where we want to be with the top of the order, and nine times out of 10, I’m betting they are going to come through.”
Since it is a double elimination tournament, Eudora (20-13) still can advance to the state title game through the loser’s bracket but it won’t be easy.
“Now it’s tougher because you have to worry about pitching because you have to play more games,” Houle said. “It’s tough, but anybody can do it. I’m sure it’s been done before and we plan on doing it again.”
Eudora will play the Ottawa-Pratt loser today at 10 a.m. Doniphan County (23-8) will play the Ottawa-Pratt winner at 6 p.m. Friday in Sabetha.