OTTAWA -- After Hayden’s baseball team held a 4-3 lead for innings three through six, Chanute slugged three extra-base hits with runners on base, earning a 6-4 lead, and would hold on to that lead to defeat the Wildcats in the opening round of Class 4A regional play Tuesday at Ottawa University.

ArnoldHeinenChanuteHayden coach Bill Arnold congratulates Brady Heinen during Tuesday's Class 4A regional game against Chanute. [Photo by Isaac Deer/TSN]

CooperGraceChanuteHayden sophomore Cooper Grace delivers a pitch in Tuesday's Class 4A regional game against Chanute. [Photo by Isaac Deer/TSN]

For those three innings of play, Hayden looked like it had the victory in hand after tremendous pitching from sophomore Cooper Grace and stellar defensive play behind Grace.

But in the end, Chanute rallied from its one-run deficit with an RBI triple and two RBI doubles, giving Hayden just three outs to score at least two runs.

“I don’t know what to say except that it wasn’t our day,” Hayden coach Bill Arnold said. “I think our club is a very good ball club, and we had a great chance to make a run at a state title. But today, it felt like we beat ourselves out there a bit. I think we got complacent once we took the lead and dug ourselves a hole in the seventh.”

Mother Nature wasn’t kind to the Wildcats down the end of the regular season stretch, forcing Hayden (11-6) to cancel multiple games before regional play. While Arnold believes Hayden wasn’t in a funk from the lack of live action, it didn’t benefit the Wildcats.

“I don’t think we were slumping, but we were in a good routine of playing four games a week and ended up missing the last couple of weeks of the regular season,” Arnold said. “We couldn’t even get on the field to practice yesterday. But make no mistake; we must tip our hat to (Chanute).

“It stings right now.”

Initially, this 4A regional tournament held in Ottawa was supposed to be played at the Orlis Cox Sports Complex. Still, the tournament was moved to Ottawa University’s facilities to let the tournament go on.

On Tuesday afternoon, Chanute (13-8) jumped out in front of Hayden in the first two innings. In the top of the first inning, the Blue Comets put two runs on the board from an RBI single by junior Brax Peter and an RBI groundout from senior Parker Manly.

Hayden didn’t let Chanute’s fast lead get out of hand immediately. Grace trimmed the Hayden deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the first inning after an RBI single.

The Blue Comets added another run in the top of the second to regain its two-run lead after junior Kolby Baker smacked an RBI single.

The second inning was important for Hayden, even trailing 3-1. While on the mound, Hayden senior Jackson Summers got out of a bases-loaded jam, limiting the damage that could’ve been much worse.

With Summers’ limiting Chanute’s explosive first two innings, Hayden’s offense rebounded with a three-run inning in the bottom of the third.

Senior Konnor Becker started the red-hot offensive inning with an RBI double that landed in left field to bring in sophomore Brady Heinen to trim the Hayden deficit to 3-2.

Chanute didn’t want to take risks with Grace, so they intentionally walked the sophomore to load the bases for senior Bradyn Rose. Rose did the job by tying the game 3-3 with an RBI groundout.

The Wildcats added one more run to give them a one-run advantage after senior Dylan Foster doubled in a run.

Grace replaced Summers and kept Chanute quiet, and the game moved along rapidly. Grace ended up with nine strikeouts, with most of his punchouts contributing to 1-2-3 shutout innings against the Blue Comets.

Hayden’s offense couldn’t add to the shutout innings from the third to the sixth, and Chanute capitalized on it.

Chanute’s Lars Koester, Nathan Meisch and Luke Noonan drove in three game-ending RBI on extra-base hits in the seventh inning, ending Hayden’s stellar season.


Chanute (13-8) -- 210 000 3 – 6 8 0

Hayden (11-6) 103 000 0 – 4 6 0

W – Smith. L – Grace. 2B – Chanute: Meisch, Noonan, Smith. Hayden: Becker, Heinen. 3B – Chanute: Koester. SB – Hayden: Summers. LOB – Chanute: 8. Hayden: 5.


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