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SPOTLIGHT
Monarchs rally, fall short in title round

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Monarchs rally, fall short in title round

Published on -8/6/2012, 10:33 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

SABETHA -- Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

For many current and former Thomas More Prep-Marian Monarchs, they were handed the second-place trophy for the third consecutive year at a state tournament.

The first two times were in Class 3A during spring baseball, but the third came this summer at the American Legion AA State Tournament.

The Hays Monarchs, comprised almost entirely of former TMP players, fell 6-2 to Iola on Sunday in Sabetha.

"No one likes losing, but when we look back, I think we'll be satisfied with it," said Monarchs infielder/pitcher Shane Zimmerman. "I really would liked it to turn out different, but it doesn't happen sometimes."

Iola improved to 41-4.

It was an anti-clamactic finish for the Monarchs (21-13), who battled back from the brink of elimination with sterling pitching efforts from Shane Zimmerman and Pierce Schippers in their wins against Pratt and Iola on Saturday.

But on Sunday, the Monarchs couldn't get anything to go their way.

Hays finished with two hits to Iola's eight, and the Monarchs got on base just five times in seven innings.

"Even when we did hit balls hard, it was always right at somebody," said Monarchs coach Dustin Schumacher. "Their pitcher didn't walk anybody. Their defense made the plays. My hats off to them for making the plays and not let us get any momentum. Once they got the momentum, we just couldn't get it back."

Hays had some defensive miscues that cost it as well.

Iola's first run got on base via an infield pop up that wasn't called by either pitcher Nathan Zimmerman, third baseman Bryan Brungardt or shortstop Nick Hammeke in the second inning. Instead, the ball simply dropped to the turf.

The runner, Dalton Smith, made it to second on the play and later scored on a throwing error by catcher Taylor Pfeifer trying to catch him stealing at third.

In the third inning, Nathan ZImmerman walked two batters and allowed three hits that scored four runs, and in the fourth, he walked a batter with two outs. Iola catcher Drew Walden made him pay with an RBI triple to right field, which further buried the Monarchs.

"They worked counts and fouled some pitches off," Schumacher said. "They did the things they needed to to get on base, and when they did, they got some timely hitting."

While Iola took advantage of nearly every opportunity it was given, the Monarchs only had two innings where they weren't retired in order, and in those two innings, they left three stranded.

Monarchs center fielder Jacob Fouts drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly to center field in the fourth inning, and right fielder Colby Schippers scored on a throwing error in the fifth inning.

Nathan Zimmerman (2-1) took the loss. He pitched four innings and allowed six runs (five earned), six hits and five walks while striking out five and throwing two wild pitches.

Shane Zimmerman and Hammeke were the only Monarchs to record hits. Zimmerman finished 1 of 2 with a run scored, and Hammeke was 1 of 3.

The Monarchs' season might not have had the end result the players or coaches wanted, but their season was a competitive one -- with the bulk of their regular season opponents AAA Legion teams.

"We came into the tournament playing good baseball," Shane Zimmerman said. "It just didn't happen in the last game."

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