Losing a game on a balk normally would leave a coach frustrated.

Losing a game on a balk normally would leave a coach frustrated.
McPherson American Legion Post 24 coach Tony Schmidt, however, had a smile on his face after his 17Us dropped a 12-10 decision to BTL Academy Grey in their opener at the Bob Hooper Classic Friday.
“We’re getting better,” Schmidt said. “We competed. We were behind and we battled and didn’t give up. Really, we hit the ball really solid tonight at times, we got to utilize the bunt a little bit. I’m not terribly disappointed. That wasn’t a bad team.”
McPherson was tied with the Hornets 10-10 in the top of the seventh inning, when reliever Micah McCulley balked with a Hornet runner on third base. That gave BTL Academy the 11-10 lead, and an insurance run came in during that same at-bat, as a sacrifice grounder made it 12-10.
Post 24 went down in order in the bottom of the frame and the score stood.
It was an offensive explosion for both teams in the Bob Hooper Classic, as there were 20 hits spread out equally between McPherson and BTL Academy.
The Hornets held a 6-2 advantage in the bottom of the third inning, when Cody Starkel kicked off a ralley with a home run over the left field fence on a 1-1 pitch. Post 24 rallied for two more runs in the third to cut the Hornet lead to one.
Starkel finished the day with a 3-for-4 showing at the plate with one RBI and three runs scored. He also had a pair of stolen bases.
“Cody’s been stroking the ball well,” Schmidt said. “We’ve got him leading off, just to shake things up a little bit and I don’t think it’s a bad move on our part right now. He’s hitting the ball really well.”
BTL Academy pulled back ahead in the fourth with a two-run inning, but, once again, McPherson (5-5) proved tenacious in the bottom half of the frame.
Jack Reifschneider, playing on the 17U team for this tournament from the McPherson 15U squad, scored on an error by the Hornet catcher. Caleb Schmidt then drilled a double to left field that scored Starkel and pulled McPherson back to within 8-7.
Brody Burney then roped a single to right field on the very next pitch that allowed Schmidt to make it home and tie the game at 8-8.
Post 24 added two runs in the bottom of the fifth and looked to have things in hand, but BTL Academy kept fighting to get the win.
“I’m not making any excuses, but injuries and kids in different positions probably didn’t help us,” Tony Schmidt said. “We threw the ball around a little bit and we normally don’t do that. I’m not terribly disappointed with the loss. I don’t like losing, but I’ve seen more good than bad [on the field].”
McCulley took the loss on the mound, as he went the sixth and seventh innings in relief of starter Reifschneider. McCulley gave up four unearned runs on one hit, with two walks and a strike out.
Reifschneider had eight runs, one earned, credited against him off nine hits. He walked three and struck out two.
Burney and Griffin Myers both had two hits and two RBIs for Post 24.
McPherson is back on the field this afternoon as the Bob Hooper Classic continues. Post 24 plays El Dorado Post 81 at Grant Sports Complex at 3 p.m. and will then have to book it across town to play the night cap at Light Capital at 5:30 p.m. against Kansas Cannon 16.
Sunday, Post 24 plays at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., both at Grant.

Contact Chris Swick by email at cswick@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @SwickSentinel.