BY JIM MISUNAS
WICHITA – The craziest baseball game in Great Bend Bat Cats history had more twists and turns than a Stephen King novel.
For 61/2 innings, the Great Bend Bat Cats had 10-time NBC World Series baseball champion Santa Barbara, Calif. on the ropes with a 4-2 lead.
Santa Barbara Foresters coach Bill Pinkard got so frustrated by a controversial appeal play, he got thrown out by umpire Jeff Spisak. Great Bend turned a trio of double plays, keyed by the appeal play on baserunner Greg Pace that drew Pinkard’s ire.
But the Bat Cats contributed three walks and two errors that enabled Santa Barbara to escape with a 5-4 victory Sunday in 10 innings. The Foresters (32-10) have swept 17 consecutive NBC games.
Forester Jalin Flores doubled off reliever Bryan Bartels (0-2) to lead off the 10th inning. Bartels gloved a topped groundball by Max Belyue, but Flores scored when Bartels threw the baseball away after slipping to the artificial turf.
Three-time defending NBC champion Santa Barbara (24-9) clinches Pool B and a bye into the 12-team bracket. The Bat Cats (28-12) are assured of a bracket berth Wednesday. The Bat Cats play Lonestar, Texas at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Wichita State.
Bat Cats crafty lefthander Kyle Winkler (Sam Houston State) baffled the Foresters with six brilliant innings.
The Foresters scored first. Winkler's error allowed Miguel Santos to advance to third base. Santos scored on Ryan Black’s single for a 1-0 lead.
But Great Bend battled back for a 4-2 lead keyed by Tyler Cowan’s 3-RBI night.
Great Bend's Jackson Webster reached base on an error and scored on Grant Nottlemann’s fourth-inning single. Cowan’s single scored Nottlemann for a 2-1 lead.
Santa Barbara's Pace drew a walk on a close 3-2 checked swing and scored on Max Belyeu’s fifth-inning single. Bat Cats third baseman Kade Snodgrass preserved a 2-2 tie with a nifty 5-3 double play on a Will Rogers groundball.
Nottlemann singled and Marshall Hale doubled in the sixth inning. Cowan delivered again with a 2-run single that scored both runners for a 4-2 lead.
A trio of walks and two errors gift wrapped a 2-run Santa Barbara seventh inning. Ryan Black scored on a throwing error after he stole third base. Kamau Neighbors scored on a Jalin Flores single for a 4-4 tie.
With Pace and Flores at third and second with no out, reliever Spencer Maley faced the challenge of a lifetime.
Pace was on his way to scoring after centerfielder Robby Bolin caught Belyeu’s apparent sacrifice fly ball. But Pinkard and the entire Foresters’ team was shocked when Pace was called out on an appeal for leaving third base early. Maley retired Rogers on a groundball to preserve a 4-4 tie.
Nottlemann reached second base with no out in the eighth, but Hale, Jaron Cotton and Bolin were retired to leave Nottlemann stranded in scoring position.
GB Bat Cats 000 202 000 0 — 4 7 5
Santa Barbara 010 010 200 1 – 5 8 2
Winkler, Lynch (7), Maley (7), Bartels (10) and Nottlemann. Turnquist, Cranz (5), Youngerman (9) and Black. W—Youngerman, 1-0. L—Bartels, 0-2. 2B—GB—Hale; SB—Flores.
2023 NBC WORLD SERIES, WICHITA
Lonestar, Texas 19, Arlington Baptist 3
3 p.m.—Liberal (29-12) vs. Denver Cougars (19-19)
6 p.m.—Hays Larks (39-7) vs. Dallas, Kraken, Texas (12-7)
9 p.m.—Bat Cats (29-12) vs. Seattle Blackfins (20-14)
Kansas Cannons (27-13) vs. Hays Larks/Dallas Kraken winner
Hutchinson Monarchs (23-17) vs. Lonestar, Texas
Santa Barbara (32-10) vs. Liberal/Denver Cougars winner
Seattle Studs (21-20) vs. Bat Cats/Seattle Blackfins winner
POOL A (x-top 3 qualify)—x-Kansas Cannons (2-1, 18-4); x-Lonestar, Texas (2-1, 9-3); x-Denver Cougars (2-1, 14-9); Sedgwick County Blues (0-3); THURSDAY—Cannons 8, Denver Cougars 1; Lonestar, Texas 5, Sedgwick County Blues 0; SATURDAY—Denver Cougars 11, Sedgwick County 0; Lonestar 3, Kansas Cannons 1; MONDAY—Denver Cougars 2, Lonestar, Texas 1; Kansas Cannons 9, Sedgwick County Blues 0
POOL C (x-top 3 qualify)—x-Seattle Studs (2-1, 20-12); x-Liberal (2-1, 27-18); x-Arlington Baptist (1-2, 18-24); D-Bat Collegiate (1-2, 14-25); THURSDAY—Arlington Baptist, Texas 9, D-Bat Collegiate 5; Seattle Studs 10, Liberal 2; SATURDAY—Liberal 12, D-Bat Collegiate 4; Seattle Studs 6, Arlington Baptist 5; MONDAY—D-Bat Collegiate 5, Seattle 4; Liberal 13, Arlington Baptist 3
POOL B (x-top 3 qualify)—x-Santa Barbara (3-0, 27-8); x-Great Bend Bat Cats (2-1, 26-15); x-Dallas, Kraken, Texas (1-2, 18-36); Tulsa, Okla (0-3, 15-26); Lonestar Kraken, Texas 0; FRIDAY—Bat Cats 4, Tulsa 2; Santa Barbara 11, Lonestar 0; SUNDAY—Santa Barbara 5, Great Bend 4; Lonestar Kraken 11, Tulsa 9; TUESDAY—Santa Barbara 11,. Tulsa 4; Great Bend 17, Dallas Kraken 8
POOL D (x-top 3 qualify)—x-Hutchinson Monarchs (3-0, 30-16), x-Hays Larks (2-1, 25-10); x-Seattle Blackfins (1-2, 9-30), Round Rock, Texas (0-3, 14-21), FRIDAY—Seattle Blackfins 6, Round Rock, Texas 2; Hutchinson 6, Hays 4, 11 innings; SUNDAY—Hays 5, Round Rock 2; Hutchinson Monarchs 12, Seattle Blackfins 1; TUESDAY—Hutchinson 12, Round Rock, Texas 11; Seattle Blackfins