Shorthand Mustangs fall to unbeaten Bishop Ward

Iola High was without the services of its leadoff hitter and starting shortstop, as well as its first baseman and cleanup hitter and a key relief pitcher as it fell toBishop Ward Friday. The unbeaten Kansas City-based Cyclones took both games of the doubleheader, 12-2 and 6-1.

Sports

May 6, 2024 - 3:07 PM

Iola High's Nick Bauer, left, fires to first base to complete a double play in a game against Wellsville last week. The Mustangs will host Wellsville Thursday to open the Class 3A Regional Tournament. Photo by Richard Luken

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Iola High faced long odds Friday as the Mustangs hit the road to take on the state’s top-ranked Class 3A team in Kansas City’s Bishop Ward.

Not only were the Mustangs facing the state’s lone unbeaten team, but Iola was without the services of three key players. Cleanup hitter and first baseman Grady Dougherty missed Friday’s regular season finale because of illness. Gavin Jones, a dual sport athlete, was in Chanute for a track meet.

And the Mustangs had learned earlier in the week that all-everything senior shortstop Landon Weide is done for the year because of a broken collarbone.

So, yeah, any hopes of victory against a squad like Bishop Ward were nestled somewhere between “slim’ and “none.”

And while the scoreboard also turned against Iola, 12-2  and 6-1 setbacks, the scores belied Iola’s ability to play with the toughest team the Mustangs have faced yet in 2024.

“I hated the placement of these games,” Iola head coach Levi Ashmore said. “If they were at midseason, we could bounce back. But these coming at the end of the year — especially after we’d been playing so well — aren’t what you want the kids to remember going into regionals.”

There was one bit of a silver lining.

While Iola was playing Bishop Ward, Santa Fe Trail was in Burlington, turning the Pioneer League championship race on its ear with a sweep of the host Wildcats.

Had Burlington won either of the games, it would have given the Wildcats the league championship. But Santa Fe Trail’s sweep instead put the Chargers and the Mustangs as first-place co-champions instead.

Ashmore shared the news with his players between games of Friday’s doubleheader.

“I told them the bad news was we just got our butts kicked,” Ashmore said. “The good news is we’re league co-champs. We don’t cheer for Santa Fe Trail much, but we did Friday.”

BISHOP WARD’S potent lineup and dominant pitching made life tough for Iola from the get-go.

The Cyclones’ Chris Marcinas struck out 14 batters, while limiting the Mustangs to four hits, a double and triple from Tre Wilson, a double from Korbin Cloud, and a single from Mac Leonard.

Cloud was matching Marcinas through the early going, but a pair of walks and a single set the stage for Marcines to club a three-run triple in the bottom of the third.

Cloud found his footing from there, retiring five straight Cyclone batters until trouble struck in the bottom of the fifth, in the form of a two-out triple. A walk, two hit batters, a single and an error suddenly added to a four-run outburst.

“We never had much of a chance offensively against their pitchers,” Ashmore said. Cloud gave up five hits over 4.1 innings with six strikeouts. Ashton Hesse and Lucas Maier came on in relief, allowing a combined three hits.

“We pitched a couple of different guys because we were down to one true reliever, and we wanted to save Easton (Weseloh) for Game 2.”

Turns out, Ashmore never needed Weseloh for the nightcap, thanks to some gutsy pitching from Leonard.

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