TOPEKA — When it comes to preparing for opponents, Rock Creek baseball coach Chad Herren says he would rather concentrate on his own team.
That said, the fourth-seeded Mustangs knocked out No. 1 seed Council Grove, 16-3, in a Class 3A state tournament semifinal Friday at Falley Field.
“I just think we came out ready to play, like we have all season,” Herren said. “Our guys played together last summer, and we only have three seniors on this year’s team.
“It helps when we’ve been playing together for a couple years.”
Leading 5-3 entering the final inning, Rock Creek scored 11 runs in the top of the seventh to send the previously unbeaten Braves (24-1) reeling. The Mustangs (20-5), competing in the state tourney for the third time in school history, were making their first title game appearance Friday night.
“This is our ultimate goal,” Herren said of his team, the 2014 Mid-East League champions. “We have three goals — win every inning we play, win league, which we did this season, and win state.”
Council Grove led 1-0 after one inning before Rock Creek plated four runs in the third for a 4-1 edge. Run-scoring singles by leadoff hitter Shilo Schaake and cleanup batter Brett Hammett highlighted the surge.
After Aaron Bachura’s fielder’s choice drove in Payton Lerner during Council Grove’s half of the fourth, cutting the deficit to 4-2, the Mustangs made it 5-2 in the fifth on Hammett’s opposite-field single down the right-field line, driving in Schaake.
It got ugly in the seventh, where Rock Creek sent 16 batters to the plate and totaled seven hits, effectively putting it out of reach.
Hammett had three hits in five at-bats and drove in three runs to lead the Mustangs, who totaled 12 hits. Schaake was 3-for-4 with a pair of runs batted in and four runs scored.
Rock Creek’s Jackson Goodmiller was 2 for 4 with two runs scored and three RBI, while Alex Feldkamp had one base hit in four at-bats and scored three runs. Dustin Harrison was 1 for 3 with two runs scored and a pair of RBI.
The Mustangs’ Jesse Correl captured the win, pitching six full innings and allowing only three runs on five hits. He walked three and struck out two.
Justin Reiss pitched the seventh for Rock Creek.
There were no extra-base hits in the game, and the two teams combined for nine errors, including six by the Mustangs.