SABETHA — A banner commemorating Sabetha High School’s 2018 Class 3A state baseball championship is displayed in right center field of Somerset Park, host of the Kansas Legion AA State Baseball Tournament this week.
The Hays Sr. Monarchs needed no reminder.
As members of the Thomas More Prep-Marian team, the Monarchs fell to Sabetha 10-5 in the 3A title game in Manhattan last spring.
On Thursday, the Monarchs got somewhat of a rematch against the bulk of the team that comprised Sabetha’s state championship squad.
“It was in the back of all of our minds,” said Cole Zimmerman, one of several seniors off the TMP team that went 24-2 last season. “We knew we were going to play them and wanted revenge.”
Though it didn’t carry the same magnitude of the game last spring, the Monarchs took consolation in gaining the small measure of revenge they sought.
The Monarchs bounced back from an early two-run deficit and scored five unanswered to take a 5-2 win over the Sabetha Raptors, moving to 2-0 in pool play and wrapping up their spot in Saturday’s AA semifinals.
“We were really fired up just to get back at the team who got us out of it during spring ball,” Monarchs' pitcher/infielder Chase Werth said. “It was exciting all the way around."
Monarchs’ coach Ryan Post could see the motivation of the team by the effort they put forth.
"Sometimes when they get ahead they have this ability to start just relaxing a little too much and joking around a lot, but they stayed in it this time," Post said. "They took it pretty serious.”
Sabetha jumped in front with two runs in the top of the second inning and Raptors’ pitcher Joe Gruber kept the Monarchs off the board for the first two innings. Hays gained momentum in the bottom of the third, scoring three runs while doing all of its damage with two outs.
Eston Brown and Tate Garcia singled, and Gavin Schumacher drew a walk before Brown came home on a wild pitch for the Monarchs’ first run. Werth then came through with the biggest hit of the game, tripling to right center to drive in two and put Hays up 3-2.
“We were getting some people on and making solid contact and then Chase put a great at-bat together and was able to drive one to the gap finally,” Post said.
Garcia drew the start and went 3 1/3 innings before Zimmerman and Werth, normally starters, were called upon for relief.
Zimmerman walked the first batter he faced to load the bases in the fourth but responded with a strikeout to get out of the jam. He pitched two scoreless innings before being replaced by Werth, who battled control issues in the sixth and seventh but kept Sabetha off the board.
“I definitely like starting games a lot more than coming on in relief,” Werth said with a smile. “It just took me a few pitches to get in my zone. After that, I was all right.”
After getting insurance runs in the fourth and sixth, the Monarchs took a three-run lead into the seventh. Sabetha loaded the bases before Werth ended the game with a strikeout.
Hays will meet Marysville at 8:15 p.m. on Friday with both teams already having clinched a spot in the semifinals.
“We won’t have our top-end guys now as pitchers, so the guys who maybe threw an inning or so this summer will have to go and work through this game against Marysville," Post said. “It’s not a really a throwaway game, but if we lose, it doesn’t make that big of difference, just changes our seed in bracket play.”