August 14, 2022

Wichita West does it again; eliminates Garden City in regional final


Box Score

Wichita, KS-On May 20, 2016, Garden City played in one of the longest games in program history: A 16-inning marathon that ended in a 1-0 loss to Wichita West in the regional finals.

“We remember exactly what happened in that game,” Head Coach Bill Wilson said. “But we had to move forward.”

Exactly 365 days later, his team locked horns with the Pioneers again. Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, minus the extra innings, the result was exactly the same.

Steve Ramos pitched a complete-game gem, and Skyler Shockey scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the sixth, as Wichita West beat Garden City 2-1 in the 6A regional championship game at Eck Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s a disappointing way to end the season,” Wilson said. “We did so many things well, but we just couldn’t get the hit that we needed.”

In the first inning, the Buffaloes got some two-out magic when Griff Brunson singled up the middle and Raymond Urrutia followed with an RBI triple to give Garden City (12-10, 5-3) a 1-0 lead. Ramos then battled back from a 3-0 count to strike out Aric Rowland and keep it a one-run game.

“We had plenty of chances and never took advantage of them,” Wilson added. “We have to become a better offensive team. We rely so heavily on our defense.”

Ramos not only got out of that opening frame basically unscathed, he slammed the door shut over the next six. The coach’s son did not allow a hit the rest of the way, and the Buffaloes produced just two baserunners over the final six innings.

In the fourth, Wichita West (12-8, 9-7) caught a break when Garden City starting pitcher Eric Heiman’s throw on a routine grounder by Shockey drew Urritia off of the first-base bag. Shockey then stole second and took third when Kendle Thompson broke out of an 0-for-15 slump with a single to right field. With Andy Marres at the plate, Heiman’s breaking ball skipped away from Rowland, allowing Shockey to score from third and tie the game 1-1.

“Unfortunately we have those bounces all season long,” Wilson said. “Eric pitched a heck of a game, but that should have been Cooper’s (Thayer) ball.”

The Pioneers took the lead for good in the sixth. With Shockey at second and two outs, Thompson hit a high chopper towards Cooper Thayer at third. The sophomore dashed to his left, but the ball ricocheted off of his glove and rolled into left-center field. Shockey easily scored on the play, putting the Pioneers in front 2-1.

“We just didn’t bounce back after that,” Wilson said.

Ramos made easy work of the Buffaloes in their final at bat, getting Rowland to ground out to first, pinch-hitter Aaron Urrutia to strike out and Thayer to pop out to give Wichita West their second straight trip to the state tournament after a 30-year drought.

“I feel so bad for this team,” Wilson said. “They fought their tails off. They worked extremely hard this season. We thought if we got to state, we would have a chance.”

Ramos improved to 4-2 while throwing 91 pitches for Wichita West, who won for the fifth time in their last six games. He struck out seven and walked only one in seven innings. His adversary Heiman, also fanned seven in six innings, but committed an error and allowed two runs on three hits. The senior dropped to 4-4.

Notes: Garden City has not qualified for the state tournament since 1995…This was the fourth meeting between these two teams the past two years and three of them were decided by a single run (Wichita West won those three with the Buffaloes taking a 5-1 decision in the regular-season finale).