McPherson Post 24 came into Tuesday's American Legion Class A Zone Tournament having faced, and swept, two of the three other teams in their bracket.
McPherson Post 24 came into Tuesday’s American Legion Class A Zone Tournament having faced, and swept, two of the three other teams in their bracket.
It turned out that the unknown team, Hays, was the easiest game of the two they played at Larks Park in Hays.
Post 24 exploded for 10 runs in the second inning against Hays to open the tournament, defeating the Larks in 3 1/2 innings 13-1.
“We hit the snot out of the ball,” McPherson coach Tony Schmidt said of the win. “And Caleb [Schmidt] threw really well on the mound.”
The younger Schmidt faced 16 batters, allowing only three base runners for Hays in the form of two hits and a walk. He struck out three in picking up the win.
Offensively, Schmidt, Cody Starkel and Casen Hoover all had two hits. Starkel and Kolby Reed both had extra base hits in a double and triple respectively. McPherson finished the game out-hitting Hays 10-2.
Reed, Schmidt, Hoover and Jacob Loecker all had two RBIs to lead McPherson (21-6).
For as well as Post 24 hit in game one, the second game against Salina saw McPherson struggle at the plate until the fifth inning, when they scored four runs and took a 4-2 lead over the Hawks.
Both teams added a run in the sixth, but Marcus McDaniel held off Salina in the seventh to pick up the win and propel McPherson into the title game tonight at 7 p.m. at Larks Park.
“Marcus threw really well,” Schmidt said. “I have no complaints with how he threw. We just couldn’t make contact at the plate. Salina threw a lefty and we had a hard time picking up on him.”
McDaniel faced 30 batters, striking out eight. He had three earned runs off six hits and two walks. McDaniel also recorded the only McPherson extra-base hit in the form of a double in the bottom of the fifth.
Post 24 was down 2-0 in the fifth when Jack Reifschneider singled to left and scored Hoover. Starkel then bunted Kolby Reed home from third in the next at-bat to tie the game.
Both Reifschneider and Starkel scored off Salina errors to put McPherson up for good later in the inning.
McPherson will face the winner of Salina and Hays, who play at 5 p.m. this evening. Salina and Hays both beat Great Bend Tuesday.
As the tournament is double elimination, should McPherson drop tonight’s game, a second championship game will be played Thursday at 6 p.m. at Hays High School.
Contact Chris Swick by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @SwickSentinel.