Panthers get fifth straight NCKL title
ABILENE — Concordia clinched a fifth straight North Central Kansas League baseball title by knocking off Abilene twice in a doubleheader on Friday.
The Panthers knocked off the Cowboys 15-2 in six innings in the first game and 14-1 in five innings in the second game to finish 9-1 in league play.
Concordia and Wamego, which split a doubleheader early in the season, will share the league title.
“That is always one of our goals, and everybody knew these were important games,” Concordia coach Brandt Hutchinson said.
The Panthers have won 11 straight games, and wrapped up the regular season at 14-2.
“We just need to keep carrying that confidence into the postseason,” Hutchinson said.
Concordia will host Clay Center in the opening round of the Class 4A regional tournament at 4:00 today.
The winner of that game will play the winner of the game between Nemaha Valley and Abilene in the semifinals at 6 p.m. at the Concordia Sports Complex.
The championship game will be played Wednesday at Wamego.
Drake Hake singled and scored on a base hit to give Concordia an early 1-0 lead in the first inning of game one against Abilene.
The Panthers made it 3-0 with two runs in the top of the second inning.
Nick Thomas doubled, stole third and scored on a single by Derek Pearson.
Hake knocked in the second run with a single.
Four runs in the third inning gave Concordia a 7-0 advantage.
Trevor Nordell led off with a single, stoel second and scored on a double by Nathan Gieber.
Tanner Gilbert singled to drive in two runs.
Thomas scored on a fly ball by Hake.
Abilene scored one run in the bottom of the third inning.
Gieber reached base on an error, and scored on a ground ball by Skyler Hittle to give the Panthers an 8-1 lead.
Concordia tacked on three runs in the top of the fifth inning.
Mehl and Gieber singled home runs and Hake drove in a run with a ground ball.
Abilene picked up a run in the bottom of the fifth inning, and trailed 11-2.
Concordia pushed the lead to 15-2 with four runs in the top of the sixth inning.
Thomas, Pearson and Will Strommen walked to load the bases.
Hake drew a walk to force home a run.
Nordell single dhome two runs and Gieber followed with a run producing single.
The game ended after the six innings because of the 10-run rule.
Hittle pitched the first four innings to get the win. He gave up one run on three hits and walked two.
Trevor Tholstrup allowed one run on two hits in two innings. He walked one.
Hake had two hits in four at bats, drove in four runs and scored two.
Gieber was 3-for-5 at the plate with three runs batted in. He scored two runs.
Mehl and Nordell had two hits and drove in two runs each.
Thomas scored three runs.
In the second game, Concordia scored two runs in the second inning, and never trailed.
Gieber and Hittle walked and Thomas drove in two with a single.
The Panthers made it 5-0 with three runs in the third inning.
Pearson and a run producing single, and Thomas knocked in a run with a fly ball.
Abilene’s lone run came in the bottom of the third inning.
Two runs in the top of the fourth put Concordia up 7-1.
Hittle had a rbi double in the inning.
The Panthers then erupted for seven runs in the fifth inning.
Hittle had a two run double. Gilbert singled twice, drove in a run and scored a run.
The game ended after five innings.
Braden Johnson gave up one run on two hits, struck out two and walked one in three innings to get the win.
Mehl struck out two of the three batters he faced in the fourth inning.
Gieber pitched a scoreless fifth inning. He struck out two.
Hittle was 2-for-3 at the plate with three runs batted in.
Thomas drove in three runs.
Gilebert had two hits.
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