By JIM MISUNAS
ELLIS — Larned’s post-season American Legion baseball magic worked again with an eight-run seventh inning that rallied past Ellis 10-5 in the Class AA Zone tournament Tuesday.
Tyler Stelter delivered the big blow, a bases-loaded double that scored three runs off losing pitcher Brandon Bollig of Ellis. Bollig, who had a 1.20 ERA with 90 strikeouts in the spring, shut Larned down for six innings for a 5-2 lead.
“Bollig was hitting his spots and mixing things up. But I didn’t hit the panic button because he was throwing a lot of pitches,” said Larned coach Chad Erway. “We had hit some balls hard at times. He was starting to elevate some pitches.”
Larned’s Camryn Bryant, Gage Skelton and Evan Skelton reached base to load the bases. Landon Erway’s groundball was misplayed by second baseman Braden Palke to score a run. Stelter followed with a three-run double down the left field line for a 6-5 lead.
Isiah Perez doubled, Bollig’s final batter. Reliever Will Crabill was ineffective with walks to Johnathon Herter, Brayden Smith, Colton Gladow and Evan Skelton to force in two runs. Reliever Brennan Charon walked Mason Schartz and hit Erway to force two more runs home for a 10-5 score.
Bollig has passed the 125-pitch count in the seventh inning. Stelter had the big hit in an extended at-bat.
“It was reminiscent of games we’ve been in before. We were patient and got a couple timely hits,” Erway said. “Stelter caught up to an inside fastball on the inner half after a mature at-bat.”
Herter’s two-run homer that scored Perez was Larned’s offense until the final inning.
Ellis scored five times off Perez, who struck out nine batters. Larned’s most important play was a double play started by shortstop Landon Erway with the bases loaded in the sixth inning.
Bollig doubled and Dalton Hensley walked and both runners scored in the third inning. Hensley recahed on an error and Charon singled in the fifth inning. Scott Pfeifer singled home Hensley. Easton Smith singled home Charon and Pfeifer for a 5-2 lead.
Larned (15-11) will meet the Ellis-Ulysses winner in Wednesday’s first championship game. Ulysses defeated Hoisington 14-4 in Tuesday’s opener. If Larned loses, a second championship will be played at 4 p.m. Thursday. The winner qualifies for state next week at Colby.
ULYSSES 14, HOISINGTON 4 — Ulysses scored early and often in a run-rule victory over Hoisington. The Cardinals featured a pair of two-run innings. Jeremy Breit’s two-run single drove home Terry Crawford and Kyle Lang in the third inning. Kade Urban drove home Kody Lang and Clark Besthorn in the fourth inning.
Diego Maravilla, Emilio Ballesteros and Kalber Gilbert delivered run-scoring singles in the first inning. Maravilla’s RBI double keyed a two-run second inning. Ulysses benefited from four walks and a hit batter in a seven-run third inning. Alec Feldman delivered a double.
Ulysses ended the game behind two errors, a hit batter and singles by Maravilla and Daniel Law in a two-run fourth inning.
At Goodland, Thomas More beat Goodland 7-1 to qualify for Class AA state along with Zone finalist Colby.
LARNED 10, ELLIS 5
Larned 000 200 8 — 10 8 3
Ellis 002 030 0 — 5 7 1
Perez and Stelter. Bollig, Crabill (7), Charon (7) and Charon, LaBarge (7). W—Perez. L—Bollig. 2B—Larned, Stelter 2, Perez; Ellis, Bollig. HR—Larned, Herter.
ULYSSES 14, HOISINGTON 4
Hoisington 002 2 — 4 4 3
Ulysses 432 2 — 14 11 0
Mencayo and Gilbert. W—Mencayo. 2B—Ulysses, Maravilla; Feldman.