Griffons stay alive, eliminate Great Bend
EL DORADO, Kan. -- The Nevada Griffons made short work of the Great Bend (Kan.) Cardinals with a 15-2 spanking in five innings at McDonald Park on Friday. A nine-run first inning outburst, aided by two Cardinal errors, set the tone and propelled the Griffons (1-1) into the next round of the NBC Midwest Regional. They will face a familiar foe, the Elkhart Dusters, on Saturday at 3 p.m. "We played relaxed and guys weren't pressing," said Griffons assistant coach Scott Thomason. "They went out tonight and played the way they know how." Nevada ripped 14 hits against Cardinal pitching. Kirk McConnell led the way with a 4-for-4 night, with four RBIs and four runs scored. He had an RBI triple in the second inning when the Griffons continued the rout with five runs. Brandon Green also enjoyed a perfect evening at the plate with a 3-for-3 performance with two runs batted in. Gus Milner and Brian Hastings collected two hits apiece. Hastings had two RBIs and Milner drove home one. Reed Hawkins added an RBI double and Zach Hawks had a two-run single. Eric Horstman, the Griffons' stellar leadoff man, took some good-natured ribbing from teammates for making the first and third outs in the first inning. Horstman, however, chipped in with two RBIs on a base hit and a sacrifice fly. On the team's approach at the plate after a frustrating opening game, Thomason said, "First off, when they put the ball in the strike zone, we hit it. We didn't try to do too much; just tried to hit the ball back up the middle." Lefthander Mark Culp got the start and the win. He went three innings and allowed one run on two hits with one strikeout. Josh Thomas, an outfielder, mopped up with two innings of no-hit pitching. He allowed one run, hit one batter and struck out one. Correction: It was incorrectly reported that the Griffons could only finish as high as third place after their opening-game loss. The losers bracket winner will play for the championship, although they'll have to defeat the winners' bracket survivor twice in the double-elimination format.