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Bullpup Baseball Collects Back-to-Back Regional Championships


By Grant Barrett, Ad Astra Radio


McPHERSON, Kan. – The Mac High Baseball team entered the regional tournament on a 7-game winning-streak, but as the 4-seed in the West, Head Coach Heath Gerstner knew it could be a difficult draw for his team if they wanted to return to the state tournament.

In the semifinal, McPherson would be paired with No. 13 El Dorado, where Jaytin Gumm would lead off the bottom of the first with a solo homerun giving the Pups a 1-0 lead. From there, the sophomore lefty, Ian Razak was in control, striking out the side in the second on his way to a five-inning shutout.

The Pups were patient at the plate, forcing El Dorado to use their bullpen in the third, where McPherson would score seven runs in the inning on their way to a 14-0 win.

In the Regional Championship, McPherson would be paired with the 5-seeded Buhler Crusaders, a team that gave the Pups their only loss in the league. “I told them day one before we practiced, that I think we can win our league, and I think we can win regionals.” Coach Gerstner talked about the added pressure to return to the state tournament let alone setting a goal of winning it.

After a scoreless first inning, Buhler would have runners on first and second before a bunt led to a bang-bang play that was ruled safe at first base and loaded the bases. “My favorite part was, we saw adversity there in the second inning. Three calls that I thought went all the other way.” Although it was frustrating, Gerstner said, “This group in the past would have let that affect us, but they didn’t bat an eye, they were ready to go.”

The Bullpups would get out of trouble, allowing just two runs in the inning, and would respond by loading the bases in the bottom of the inning before Carter Allen cleared the bases with a double. “That was a huge swing.” said Gerstner, “The last couple weeks his BP has been amazing, and he can really hit a fastball.” 

Hunter Alvord lined an RBI-double to give the Pups a 4-2 lead, and on the mound he finished with a scoreless third inning before Razak returned to the mound. “Ian was so good in game one, his feel is unbelievable, and he’s throwing three pitches for a strike. I thought bringing him in following Hunter was going to cause them fits.”

Gerstner went back and forth with different strategies of who should be on the mound and he was pleased with his decision in the long run, saying, “Thank goodness that Ian was so good, we’ve never done that before, fifty pitches and then bring him back an hour later, you kind of question if I was crazy.” 

Gerstner had mentioned the plan being to stick with Alvord, then have Jaret Myers close the door, but after a six-pitch inning, Razak made the decision even more difficult. Ultimately it was the senior Myers, who would record the final three outs, as the Pups would go to win 6-2, claiming the regional title for the second-straight season.

The Class 4A State Tournament will take place in Salina, next Thursday, May 25 and Friday, May 26 at Dean Evans Stadium. McPherson will await their opponent as the bracket will be released Friday, May 19.