WAMEGO – The inability to make the routine play, catch in-field pop ups or fly balls to the outfield caught up with the young Abilene Cowboys baseball team Monday as the Wamego Red Raiders eliminated the Cowboys from postseason play with a 9-1 win at Wamego.
The Red Raiders jumped out quickly on the Cowboys by scoring three times in the bottom of the first inning. Wamego slashed six infield ground balls in the first and the Cowboys had trouble adjusting to a high-cut grass infield at the Raider ball field.
“That’s kind of been the story this whole season,” Abilene head coach Travis Bartley said. “We’ve struggled as a team this season playing with energy and confidence. I really truly believe we have the skill but we have to play with energy. We have to play with confidence. We have to believe we are going to make every play and we have got to be aggressive when we are doing it.
“The skill is there. I still truly honestly believe in these kids. This team, this program in the very near future is going to do something awesome. I really truly believe that. We are going to get there. This was a tough season for everyone. We’re frustrated and everything else. Just hope we can learn from it. We’ll be another year older, stronger both mentally and physically and hopefully we come out ready to roll next year.”
Kaden Coup started on the hill for the Cowboys and pitched effectively enough to get a better decision than the four-inning loss in the game. Coup was charged with seven runs, two earned, on nine hits through his four innings of work.
Keaton Hocker tossed a scoreless fifth inning giving up one hit and senior Brett Ambrosier tossed the final frame giving up two unearned runs on one hit.
“Coup has been awesome for us,” Bartley said of his starting pitcher. “All year he gives us a chance. They beat the ball into the ground. We adjusted eventually to the grass infield but then we misplayed some balls and then dropped some others. That’ll eat you alive and that sucked the energy right out of us from the get go.”
Raider Adler Pierson held the Cowboys to four hits and one earned run in six and two-thirds innings of work. He struck out seven Cowboy batters while walking four.
The Cowboys had their scoring opportunities against the Raider pitcher as they plated their only run of the game in the second inning. Shortstop Carter Taplin led off with a single to left but was erased on a fielder’s choice by Roman Sanchez. Right fielder Kaleb Becker followed with a fielder’s choice that also resulted in a Wamego error to put runners on second and third with one out.
Abilene’s run scored on a balk by the Pierson.
They Cowboys left runners in scoring position in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings.
Coup, Robbie Keener, Taplin and Sanchez had singles for Abilene in the final game of the year.
Wamego added a run in the third inning, three in the fourth and two more in the sixth for the 9-1 win.
Despite the Cowboys fielding woes in the game, Becker made a sparkling defensive play in the Wamego third inning. With one across and runners on second an third and one out, Red Raider Jace Jager lifted a ball to right field that Becker made the catch for the second out and then threw a strike to Keener at the plate to tag out Ledjor Rowden, who was trying to tag up from third.
With the end of the season, the Cowboys said good-bye to two senior athletes as Ambrosier and third baseman Colby Mohn completed their high school eligibility.
“Brett is a great kid,” Bartley said of his senior athletes. “He does everything you ask of him. He was really a great leader for us this year both on and off the field. Colby is another great kid. He didn’t get to play a whole lot of varsity in his career. He got some opportunities this tear and he stepped up at some times and made some nice plays.”
“It’s always tough to lose the seniors,” Bartley added. “The longer I keep doing this, the tougher it gets. But it is also awesome and exciting to see the kids come up through our kids program. I think Abilene is in a great spot for the future.”
The win enabled the Raiders (5-14) to advance in the Class 4A post season and they will travel to Nickerson (14-2) for a 2 p.m. game with the number two seed Panthers today. The winner will then face the winner between Towanda Circle (14-6) and Winfield (10-9) with the right to go to the Class 4A State Tournament in Salina.
Contact Ron Preston at email@example.com.
Wamego 9, Abilene 1
AHS 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 – 1-4-6
WHS 3 0 1 3 0 2 X – 9-11-2
2B: Rodgers, Rinkler, Rowder (WHS)
SAC: Mathews (WHS)