The William Chrisman baseball team had been struggling coming into Saturday’s game against crosstown rival Van Horn.
The Bears were on an eight-game losing streak and had been outscored by their opponents 93-13.
Both the pitching and hitting had been struggling for Chrisman, but Saturday at Kauffman Stadium, Bears ace Seth Gossett stopped the bleeding. The left-hander pitched seven innings, allowing only two hits and striking out nine in his team’s 1-0 eight-inning victory on the Kansas City Royals’ home field.
“To come out and play on this field, there is no experience like it,” Gossett said. “To think there’s that many legends in my eyes who have thrown from that mound, it’s just crazy.”
Gossett mixed his fastball and curveball well. His curve often set up his fastball, a pitch he was able to sneak by the Falcons hitters. In the first inning, he struck out four batters, with one reaching on a passed ball following a swing and a miss.
“I thought he mixed up his pitches pretty well and kept both of them in the zone consistently,” Chrisman coach Miles Shelton said of Gossett. “And that’s all I ask him to do when he’s out there.”
The only time he was in trouble came in the fourth inning when Van Horn catcher Johnny Fenton reached after being hit by a pitch. After Gossett struck out Dillon Garcia, Cooper Sumpter singled to left field. Fenton tried to take third on the play, but left fielder Ethan Douglass got it in quickly to third, and the Falcons base runner was caught in a rundown and tagged out. Gossett later got a pop-out to end the threat.
Meanwhile, the Bears offense had a couple of opportunities to drive in a run in the first seven innings against Van Horn starter Brayden Bandy, who also pitched a gem. Chrisman (4-12) had a runner at third with two outs on a pair of occasions but was unable to score.
In the eighth, the Bears finally broke through thanks to a pair of substitutions made by Shelton.
Pinch hitter Nelson Melendez reached on an error by the Falcons infield and took second on a balk by Bandy. Pinch hitter Frankie Gervy then took advantage when he flared a single to right field. Melendez slid and got his foot on home plate just before Fenton could apply the tag.
Gossett, who said he wanted to pitch in the eighth, was replaced by Matthew Miller. He allowed a runner to get to second base following a walk but struck out two batters and got Marion Jackson to fly out to earn the save and halt Van Horn’s four-game winning streak.
After the game, Shelton and Gossett exchanged friendly banter about the pitching change in the eighth.
“I was ready to go that extra inning,” Gossett said. “I was ready to go out there and get the complete game, but we got the win and that’s all that matters.”
Added Shelton: “He was kind of upset with me because I took him out. But I would never let a kid go eight innings.”
Van Horn coach Jay Kolster said he was proud of Bandy, who went all eight innings and a allowed just four hits and struck out three.
“Slow and slower is his approach,” Kolster, whose team fell to 7-6, said of Bandy. “We had a great game plan and executed the game plan. He throws in the mid to upper 60s. They were late a number of times. We played enough defense to win it.”