Thursday’s doubleheader with Junction City couldn’t have been more different from Tuesday’s thumping of Nickerson for the McPherson Junior Legion.
Whereas Post 24 blitzed Nickerson offensively in both games Tuesday, the Blues proved a little more difficult to put away, though McPherson swept the doubleheader 13-9 and 2-1.
“We didn’t pitch as well as we have in the past,” McPherson coach Tony Schmidt said. “We’ve got to get ahead in the count right away to do the things that we do.”
Game one starter Cody Starkel struggled in his three innings on the mound, giving up seven runs, five earned, off six hits. He struck out four and walked two. Six of those runs came in the second inning from Junction City, who took a 7-3 lead over McPherson after the offensive outburst.
Nelson Steinert took over in relief in the fourth and had better luck against the Blues, giving up two runs off two hits. He struck out two and walked one on his way to the win.
McPherson closed the gap to 7-5 after the second, then tied it in the third. A four-run fourth gave Post 24 the lead for good, though they had two insurance runs in the fifth.
Starkel had the spark for McPherson offensively, as he drove in Post 24’s first runs of the game with a two-run double to right field. He followed that up in the third with a line drive triple to left and a second RBI double in the fourth. Starkel finished game one 3-for-4 with three RBI’s and three runs scored.
McPherson scored both of their game two runs in the first inning, thanks to a Marcus McDaniel triple that scored Steinert and Kolby Reed. Junction City scored their run in the third inning.
McDaniel went five innings on the mound, holding on to a one-hitter in the process. He was ejected following an at-bat in the bottom of the fifth after exchanging words with the home plate umpire, however, forcing Griffin Myers to come in and finish out the game.
Myers answered by striking out the first three batters he faced on his way to preserving the win.
The juniors will participate in the 2013 Braves Classic Saturday and Sunday in Great Bend. Their first game is Saturday at 11 a.m. against Buhler.