Ellis sees season end at state
By NICK McQUEEN
GREAT BEND -- During many games this season, the Ellis High School baseball team started seven freshmen.
Thursday, in the Railroaders' first trip to state since 2010, Ellis had six freshmen on the diamond against No. 2 seed Troy in the Class 2-1A state opener at the Great Bend Sports Complex.
Though it ended in a disappointing 5-0 loss, Ellis coach Ryan Augustine was optimistic about what the Railers might be able to do in the future.
"It's a tough loss. It's hard to sell it to your team losing at this point," said Augustine, in his first year at the helm. "The fact is to come this far with starting six or seven freshmen is great."
Simple fact was, though, the Railers fell into a hole early, and just couldn't muster any offense against Troy junior starter Nathan Gaardner, who moved to 10-0. He struck out seven in six innings pitched.
Ellis managed only four hits, and had a runner past first only twice, once when Gaardner walked Ellis freshman Daniel Carbajal in the fifth inning.
"We were leaving people on base. It was promising we were getting people there, we just weren't able to get them around," Augustine said. "We've had better batting days, but we were ahead of it a lot today.
"(Gaardner) was changing it up really well," Augustine added. "He was helping control where it was going."
His opposition, Ellis junior Brandon Bollig, had a bit of a rough start, but settled in to the complete game. Bollig (5-5) walked the leadoff batter, then gave up a double to start the game, and fell into a 2-0 hole after one inning. From that point he scatted five hits and ended the game with six strikeouts and just the one walk.
"He started to settle in. He was kind of hurting a little bit, but he's a trouper," Augustine said of Bollig. "He was wanting to win just as much as anyone, if not the most. He was pushing himself and he settled in."
Ellis' biggest scoring threat came in the fifth inning. Freshman Nathan Cox recorded a two-out single to right field, then Carbajal walked. But freshman catcher Dalton Hensley grounded one to third, and Cox was forced out to end the threat. In the sixth senior Scott Pfeifer drove freshman Brevin LaBarge to second with a single, but a flyout and strikeout on the next two batters stopped the momentum.
The Railers lose three seniors in Nick Gerhing, Pfeifer and Braden Parke. Ellis had one junior and one sophomore and the rest of the roster were freshmen.
"Everyone deserved their spot. Everyone on the bench deserved to play," Augustine said. "We have a lot of good players, a lot of good depth. I think we'll have good people stepping in to fill the positions of the people we lose, and we'll come back stronger next year."