Diamond heartbreak for Mustangs

Iola High saw its baseball season come to a painful conclusion, falling behind in the fifth inning and unable to score on a number of chances in a 3-2 loss to Bishop Miege in their Class 4A Regional Championship.

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Sports

May 22, 2021 - 9:07 AM

Iola High's TJ Taylor races home in the Class 4A Regional Championship against Bishop Miege Friday. Taylor was safe on the play, but Miege rallied to win, 3-2. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Months of grueling practices, long road trips and avoiding rain drops boiled down to a matter of inches for Iola High’s baseball team Friday.

With a runner at third base and two outs in the fifth, Bishop Miege’s Hayden Thilges connected on a perfectly placed Bradyn Cole curveball in a tie Class 4A Regional title game. Thilges looped the ball just beyond the outstretched glove of Mustang first baseman Dillon Bycroft to the outfield, scoring the go-ahead run in a 3-2 victory.

Iola had two golden opportunities to tie or take the lead after that, but left runners on second and third in the sixth and had a runner on third base in the seventh when Miege’s Jude Putz recorded a strikeout to end the game — and Iola’s season.

With the victory, Miege advances to the state tournament in Salina. Iola’s season ends at 16-5.

“Looking back, there’s not a lot of things we could have done differently,” Iola head coach Ryan Latta said. “It was just a hard-fought ball game. It was tough.”

Emotions ran high on both sides after the game ended, with Miege and Iola parents engaging in a brief shouting match as the Stag players celebrated on the ifield.

School officials managed to cool things off before the tension escalated.

The game started with Miege jumping in front 1-0 on a pair of Mustang errors and a wild pitch, before Iola starter Ryker Curry settled in nicely.

He pitched out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the fourth by inducing a soft liner to Cole at third, who beat a Stag baserunner back to the bag for a double play.

Curry then caught Miege’s Jake Welsh looking at strike three to retire the side.

Iola manufactured its runs in the first and second innings.

Bycroft worked a two-out walk in the bottom of the first, stole second and scored when Cole smacked a line drive single to center.

Iola High’s Bradyn Cole delivers a pitch for the Mustangs Friday against Labette County.Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

TJ Taylor bunted for a single with one out in the second. He stole second base, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Kole Rogers sacrifice fly to right.

But missed chances plagued Iola the rest of the way. The Mustangs stranded eight baserunners, seven in scoring position.

Miege’s pitchers — Nate Stanley, Jake Welsh and Jude Putz — limited Iola to three hits, although Mustang batters worked seven walks into the mix.

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