By BEN JOHNSON
PARK HILL — If you’re into foreshadowing, all you needed to see was the first inning between Keys and Kansas on Monday.
Kansas’ Reed Fell laced a single off the right-field wall and eventually came around to score as the Comets took an early lead. A few moments later, Keys’ Elisha Allison roped a ball to right-center field, but Kansas right fielder Casey Armbrister was in the vicinity and made a diving catch to his right to dampen the Cougars’ spirits early.
It never got much better for Keys in a 10-1 home loss to the 3A No. 7 Comets.
“That set the tone,” Keys coach Beau Brannon said of the first inning. “We had multiple plays where they’re just diving bodies and they’re making plays. They made the extraordinary play look ordinary, and that’s what a good team does.”
The Cougars, ranked 19th in 3A, suffered only their second loss in their last eight games. And it was defense that failed Keys (8-4) in the game-deciding fourth inning.
Looking to avoid trouble in the fourth frame, Allison tried to pitch Keys out of two-on, one-out jam. But Kansas’ Blake Hix grounded a slow roller to Tyler Russell at second base and Russell’s errant throw allowed Hix to reach base safely while scoring Armbrister from third.
Allison then struck out Fell for what would have been the third and final out. But the inning continued.
Logan Blaine drove in a run, C.J. Taylor was hit by a pitch and Austin Glunt delivered the decisive blow — a towering three-run home run over the center-field fence — to give the Comets a commanding 7-0 run.
Glunt blasted the home run off of Connor Hall, who came on in relief of Allison, who took the loss after giving up five runs (three earned) on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings of work. Allison struck out six during his time on the mound.
Hall and Tristan Walker finished up the other 1 1/3 innings on the mound, combining to give up four hits and five runs (all earned).
Keys’ lone run came on a RBI ground out by Allison in the fifth inning.
Picking up the pitching victory for Kansas (13-1) was Blaine, who pitched a complete-game two-hitter. The junior hurler struck out five, walked three and gave up only one earned run.
The loss was Keys’ second against Kansas this season. Now Brannon knows how his club measures up against a top-10 club in 3A.
“The first time we played them, it was a 1-0 game going into the last inning,” Brannon said. “We competed with them today, but we just came out and weren’t ready to play. We made some errors and those errors cost us a lot of runs. They made the extraordinary play look ordinary, and we couldn’t make the routine play. When you do that against a good team, that’s what is going to happen.”