TMP, Lakin look poised for regional rematch
Published on -5/14/2012, 10:24 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
Many great stories are best told as a trilogy.
That could be the case with the Class 3A baseball regional tournament at Lakin, as Thomas More Prep-Marian and Lakin are set to possibly face off in their third regional championship game in a row.
TMP (19-1) is the No. 1 seed and has won 19 in a row, while Lakin (17-2) is the No. 2 seed.
TMP came into the last two regional championship games as the slight underdog and won both in dramatic fashion.
Last year, TMP's senior ace pitcher Nathan Zimmerman struck out 17 batters while throwing a one-hitter, and in 2010, junior designated hitter Krayton Werth hit a two-out, three-run homer -- his first of the season -- to get the go-ahead run in the Monarchs' 4-3 victory. Both years TMP went on to finish second in the 3A state finale in Manhattan.
However, the shoes are on the other feet this year, as TMP comes into the tournament as No. 1 ranked team in the state.
"We just have to approach it the same way and not overlook anything," said TMP coach Brian Schumacher. "We've won 19 in a row, but one bad inning or one bad game, that can end it. The season basically starts over (Tuesday) with the playoffs now."
To make the regional title game, TMP first has to get past its opponent at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
With the seven-team regional, TMP will have a bye in the first round and will play the winner of Natoma/Plainville (5-9) and Goodland (5-15). Natoma/Plainville and Goodland play at 2 p.m. Monday.
Schumacher said getting the bye was big for his squad.
"It's one less game that you have to play, and you just never know with it being single elimination in baseball," he said. "(Having the top seed) doesn't matter if you have a bad outing."
On the other side of the bracket, Lakin will face Russell (3-17) at 4 p.m. Monday, and Scott City (12-7) will play Holcomb (4-16) at 6 p.m. Monday.
Scott City could spoil a possible rematch between Lakin and TMP, as Scott City already has defeated Lakin once this year and beat TMP 3-1 in the season opener.
Schumacher said keeping his team mentally focused is more of a challenge when his team isn't the underdog, but he said his veteran squad shouldn't need it.
"These guys have that confidence, and that's the way we've been playing," he said. "We've been down in some games and been able to come back."
However, he said Lakin's players will remember how TMP prevented them from going to state the past two seasons.
Nevertheless, Schumacher said his team has a bigger goal in mind -- a state championship. In order to do that, they Monarchs have to take care of business at Lakin.
"I feel like we've got the team to be back in that state championship and have a better outcome than we've had in the last two years," Schumacher said.