By KEVIN THOMPSON
HUGOTON — For a top-seed versus eighth-seed game, Hugoton's 5-4 win over Hoisington probably took a lot of fans by surprise.
But as Eagles head coach Rusty Crites said, he'll take a 5-4 win if it means moving on.
Hugoton, now 20-1, found all it could handle in the 5-20 Cardinals in Monday's opening round of the 4A regional at Legends Field.
Both teams committed four errors, but the Eagles were able to take the better advantage and hold off a late rally to move on to Wednesday's semifinal game.
Hugoton scored first. After a one-out walk, an error on third basemen Brad Reif put runners at the corners. Maverick Mills lifted a high fly to left field, scoring Ross Davis.
Hoisington tried to score in the next inning, taking advantage of the Eagles' third error of the game. But they stranded runners at second and third when Terry Crawford chopped a ball back to pitcher Nic Frederick to end the threat.
The Eagles scored their second run in the fifth. Yates Sutton singled to right, driving in Michael Baeza from second. Reid Davis singled in Sutton after a Cardinal error.
Then another error from the Hoisington shortstop led to two more runs and a 5-0 lead.
That lead was more than important, as the Cardinals finally got their offense going.
Hoisington capitalized on timely hitting and another Eagle error to get on the board in the sixth. Colton Zink's double to the left-field fence scored Reif. Braeden Crites' infield out scored Ethan Woodcock.
Bryce Steiner laced a single to center, scoring Zink and closing the lead to 5-3 before Nic Frederick recorded his sixth strikeout to end the scoring barrage.
Hoisington made a last stand in the seventh inning against reliever Sutton. After a strikeout and a walk, Trent Shremmer hit a long single to right to put runners at the corners with one out.
Woodcock came back from 0-2 count to fill the count before lining a clean single over second, scoring the Cardinals' fourth run.
Zink came to the plate with the tying run at third and two outs but he flied out to Ross Davis in right field to end the game.
Crites said his offense struggled in this game.
"We've been averaging nine, almost 10 runs a game all season, and Crawford just came out and threw a heck of a game," he said.
The seventh inning almost-rally by the Cardinals is not new to the Eagles, Crites said. Finishing games has been an issue in the past, but they've been able to correct that this season, for the most part. In their lone loss to Lakin, they gave up a 4-1 lead in the seventh, but this time they closed it down.
Nic Frederick (5-0) got the win, striking out six and walking none. Sutton pitched the seventh.
"Nic's done that all year," Crites said. "His strikeout total is 25 in 21 innings, and I think he's only walked five or six guys all year. He pitches around the plate, and he's been a big-game pitcher for us all year."
Frederick said he was hitting his spots, especially with his curve ball, which he throws about 70 percent of the time.
The Hoisington errors also didn't hurt.
"They helped us out with their errors. And we got some hits whenever we needed them," he said. "That's what got us into the next round."
Frederick said he is the staff's No. 3 pitcher, with Sutton and Ross Davis the aces.
"They'll put on a show," he said, alluding to two wins Wednesday to get to state. But Monday's close win is a lesson in not overlooking the next opponent, he added.
Hugoton will face Goodland (9-4 winners over Colby) at 2 p.m. Wednesday. On the off day, Crites will have his team doing a lot of infield drills and taking a lot of batting practice.
Twenty wins has been the product of skill and luck, he said.
"But we've taken advantage of other teams' costly mistakes in late innings," Crites said.
Home field advantage and finishing strong may be just the key to getting to state, he added.
Hoisington 000 003 1 -- 4 7 4
Hugoton 010 040 x -- 5 5 4
WP--Frederick (5-0). LP--Crawford (1-5). 2B--Hoisington 1 (Zink), Hugoton 1 (Sutton).
LOB--Hoisington 6, Hugoton 4.