LAWRENCE – Topeka High baseball’s 9-0 Class 6A state quarterfinal loss to Derby was a lot closer than the scoreboard indicated, and that’s what made the loss sting worse for the Trojans at the University of Kansas’ Hoglund Ballpark on Thursday afternoon.

TopekaHighstatehuddleTopeka High's baseball team huddles up after having their 2023 season ended in a 9-0 Class 6A state tournament loss to Derby Thursday in Lawrence. [Photo by Isaac Deer/TSN]

NatePlankintonState 2Topeka High junior pitcher Nate Plankinton limited to just one run over four innings before the Panthers pulled away for a 9-0 Class 6A state tournament win Thursday. [Photo by Isaac Deer/TSN]

The losing result wasn’t what Topeka High (16-7) was searching for after making its first appearance in the Class 6A tournament since 1947. But after a 76-year hiatus from the state tournament, the Trojans provided themselves with a surge of optimism for next year’s program and beyond.

“They have nothing to hang their heads about,” Topeka High coach Cody Miller said. “I’m very proud of them. It was a huge year for us. It was the next step for us to get here where we are today. Derby has knocked us out two years in a row now.

“We were talking in the dugout with our juniors while feeling bad for our seniors about us wanting to get back here next year and knock those guys out. This is something to build on.”

In Thursday's loss, Topeka High had Derby right where they wanted for four innings. The Trojans had limited the Panthers to just one run before the fifth inning.

Topeka High’s best opportunity for offensive damage came in the bottom of the third inning when the Trojans stranded junior Isaiah Kincade after a walk and junior Matthew Genrich after his single.

Through three innings, Topeka High had at least one runner on the basepaths but couldn’t drive in a run. Then, with four opportunities to put a run on the board, they couldn’t break through against Derby pitcher and Cowley College baseball commit Mitchell Johnson.

Johnson, whose fastball varied between 87-90 mph and a dropping curveball in the 75-77 mph range, was tough for Topeka High to crack.

“We had our chances there with the 1-0 game going into the fifth,” Miller said. “We had runners in scoring position a few times against (Johnson). Obviously, he’s a very good pitcher. We had our chances against him, though. They won’t have Mitchell Johnson next year.”

Topeka High junior pitcher Nathan Plankinton started in Topeka High’s first state contest in 76 years. Although Plankinton got roughed up in the fifth inning with a rising pitch count, the righty pitched a stellar four innings.

Plankinton kept the Trojans within one run through four innings against an offensively solid Derby team, allowing the Panthers's single run while punching out five batters and giving up three hits.

But Topeka High had three defensive errors that forced Plankinton to do more work than necessary on the mound, which came back to bite the Trojans in the end.

“Nate pitched great again,” Miller said. “Defensively, we did what we have done all year and made some boneheaded plays here and there. Nate was throwing sliders and breaking pitches for strikes. If we could’ve made a few more plays for him, his pitch count probably wouldn’t have racked up as high.

“He had to battle out of a couple of bases-loaded jams and was only able to go four and a third. If we could’ve made a few more plays defensively, I think we could’ve hung around for much longer and gave (Derby) a more interesting finish.”

Derby would extend its slim 1-run lead to a 6-run advantage after the explosive 5-run fifth inning.

Derby senior outfielder Andrew Miller brought home two runners off of a single, leading the assembly line-type effort. Shortly after Miller’s big swing, freshman utility player Rowan Foster and junior Colton Ruedy contributed with RBI singles.

The fifth-inning offensive outburst ended with a sacrifice fly from senior Kade Sheldon, and Derby would have a sizeable sixth-run lead heading into the sixth inning.

After a hitless sixth inning from the Trojans, Derby added a pair of insurance runs with a 2-RBI double from Sheldon and a ground-rule double RBI from senior Braden Horn to make it a 9-0 lead going into the final inning.


Derby (14-8)             010 050 3 – 9 12 0

Topeka High (16-6) 000 000 0 – 0 2 5

 W – Johnson. L – Plankinton. 2B – Derby: Sheldon, Horn. Topeka High: Genrich.

Family Service and Guidance Center presents “In the Know”

TSN In the Know Logo

Youth Suicide Prevention:            What Parents Need to Know

click video tab
A1 Lock Key Logo

Key perfomers of the week

JacksonEsquibelnewmugJakeMullermug4TreRichardsonBBmug 2

ChrisBarnes3 002


2023 Hall of Fame inductee Chris Barnes 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Gary Woodland

TSN Video Podcast