Mustangs lose 4A regional title game



May 16, 2012 - 12:00 AM

OTTAWA — Iola High’s Mustangs were in their first-ever regional baseball tournament final. That was a good thing. Seven seniors on the 2012 Mustang roster finished four years of success — not having a losing season in any of their four years at IHS.

That didn’t matter. Most of the Mustang players couldn’t see those achievements clearly Tuesday night. All they knew is they came up short of the ultimate goal — making it to a state tournament.

Senior Braden Larson laced a double to right field with two gone in the top of the seventh. There was still life. There was still fight in the Mustangs.

Ottawa High’s Cyclones were protecting a 13- 5 lead. Sophomore Trent Latta hit the ball hard but was thrown out at first to end the possible comeback by the Mustangs.

It was the end of the game and end of a very successful season for the Mustangs.

But the Mustangs players weren’t seeing that as Larson picked up the 2012 Kansas Class 4A Regional runner-up trophy. There were tears as their run came to an end.

“I’m so proud of this team. These seniors have given a lot to putting the Iola High baseball program on the map,” said Mark Percy, Mustang head coach, following the championship game on Ottawa’s home field.

“They’ve never had a losing record in high school with over 50 wins in four years. That’s a hell-uva run.”

The Mustangs defeated Fort Scott High’s Tigers 9-1 Tuesday afternoon in a regional semifinal game. The Cyclones run-ruled Osawatomie High’s Trojans 15-2.

Iola had been stymied in past seasons at the semifinal level of regional tournaments. The 2012 Mustangs broke the barrier, putting themselves in a position to play for a regional championship and a berth at the 4A state tournament.

Early in the championship game, the Mustangs committed four errors to help the Cyclones get a lead. The Cyclones hit the ball hard, got some good hops on hits on their home field and they led 6-0 after three innings.

“We weren’t playing Mustang baseball. We had talked about getting after it and playing our style of baseball,” Percy said.

“We weren’t making plays that we normally make defensively. We were hitting the ball but right at people. I’m proud of our guys for turning things around and going out battling right to the end.”

In the fourth inning, Iola got on the scoreboard.

Mason Coons drew a leadoff walk and Derrick Weir singled. With two gone in the inning, Trent Latta had an RBI single.

Unfortunately, the Cyclones answered with three more runs in their half of the fourth including a leadoff home run by Conner Goedert. Iola was down 9-1.

Then came the talk between innings.

Jarred Latta drilled a single and Levi Ashmore walked to open the fifth inning. Clint Heffern reached on an error.