"We really struggled to get anything going offensively in the title game."
HUTCHINSON — In a tournament that will be remembered more for the loss of an umpire than who won, the McPherson senior American Legion baseball team ran out of gas in the championship game as they lost to the Wichita Aeros 12-0 Sunday at Hobart -Detter Field in Hutchinson. McPherson entered the game undefeated in the tournament as they swept through pool play at 4-0.
Mac only managed one hit in the championship game as Jack Reifschneider scratched out a single to go 1 for 2. McPherson picked up two other base runners on one walk and one Wichita error but stranded all three runners on base in the shutout.
"We really struggled to get anything going offensively in the title game," said McPherson coach Mark Reifschneider. "Credit to the Wichita team as they had a solid pitcher and good defense. We couldn't find any holes."
Corbin Steinert, who got the call to start the title game on the mound, faired well into the fifth inning, giving up four hits and three runs with one strikeout. After 58 pitches thrown, Raine Reitsma came on in relief in the fifth and uncharacteristically struggled, giving up a couple of hits, two runs and a walk without retiring a batter. Jack Reifschneider, Dylan Werries and Zane Myers also saw action on the hill but were no match for a tough hitting Aeros team that picked up an additional six hits and seven runs to put the game away.
"Overall we had a great tournament," said Coach Reifschneider. "Through the first four games our pitching was tremendous. We started slow offensively but got better each game until the title game. Even with the loss we are playing better than we have all season."
Next up for the seniors is a single game at Newton on Tuesday before they begin their Zone tournament in Great Bend on Saturday. They open zone play against Hays at 1:30 p.m. on field No. 1 at the Great Bend Sports Complex. Both a Zone 7 and 8 champion will be crowned from the four team field.
Most of the Hutchinson tournament was played with heavy hearts all around, as umpire Eric Shannon collapsed and died in the middle of the seventh inning of an afternoon game on Friday. Shannon had gone to get water between innings and mentioned he felt dizzy but said he was just overheated and could continue. Moments later he fell and despite CPR being administered, never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital. The letters ES were painted in the grass behind home plate for the remainder of the tournament in Shannon's honor and his fellow umpires wore black for the remainder of the weekend in remembrance of their fallen colleague.
Contact Matt Cole by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MacSentinel.