BY JIM MISUNAS
It was good old-fashioned championship baseball — outstanding defense and pitching, moving runners with bunts and driving them home with sacrifice flies.
Last year's NBC World Series runner-up Cheney and the underdog Great Bend Bat Cats matched a classic style in 101-degree heat at Al Burns Field.
Unbeaten Cheney (16-0, 13-0 Sunflower) survived the Bat Cats' challenge 7-3 in Tuesday's well-played opener. Cheney turned two double plays and struck out 11 Bat Cats. The Bat Cats (9-7, 8-5 Sunflower) return home Wednesday against Cheney.
Bat Cats starter Joe Richter threw seven brilliant innings with four strikeouts and one earned run. Cheney's Jackson Glenn snapped a 3-3 tie with an RBI single that scored Andrew Stewart. Cheney added three ninth-inning insurance runs off reliever Brian Shadrick. Len Ashby singled home Corrigan Bartlett. Jace Grady singled home pinch runner Connor Jeffers. Andrew Stewart singled home Grady.
The Bat Cats scored two seventh-inning runs for a 3-3 tie. Alex Rodgers scored on a wild pitch and Collin Meinert scored on a double play ball after back-to-back walks.
Cheney led 2-0 when Corrigan Bartlett singled home David Simms and Andrew Miller scored on a second-inning groundball. Cheney took advantage when Miller reached on an error, leading to two unearned runs.
Bat Cats slick shortstop Seth Kenagy kept the home team alive by turning a trio of clutch double plays. Kenagy turned a 6-3 double play on Nick Vernars' second-inning groundball. He rescued starter Joe Richter from a bases-loaded fourth-inning jam with a 6-4-3 double play with second baseman Collin Meinert. Kenagy and Meinert teamed for a 6-4-3 eighth-inning double play.
Cheney starter Chandler Arnold escaped a bases-loaded first-inning jam by retiring Jake Baker and Brady Michel. Small ball delivered the Bat Cats' second inning run when Kenagy's bunt moved Tyler Henry to third base and he scored on Alex Rodgers' sacrifice fly.
Cheney used small ball for a 3-1 lead. Andrew Stewart bunted Jace Grady to third base and he scored on George Specht's fifth-inning groundball.
Cheney 020 010 003 — 7 11 1
Bat Cats 010 002 000 —3 6 1
Arnold, Rodd (5), Wilson (7) and Miller. Richter, Shadrick (8) and Bloomer. W—Rodd. L—Richter. Sv—Wilson. 2B—BC—Rodgers, Baker; C—Grady.