By JIM MISUNAS
COLBY — Larned’s American Legion baseball team returns to the Class AA state tournament Wednesday at Colby’s Young Memorial Field. Larned placed fourth in last year’s Class AA state tournament with a 2-2 record.
Larned won the 1990 Class AA state title, a team Larned coach Chad Erway played for. Larned also won the 1996 American Legion Class AA title.
“With our pitching depth, I like our chances,” Chad Erway said. “If we get three or four quality starts, we’re confident we can compete against anybody. We’re peaking at the right time, playing our best baseball.”
Larned qualified for state with a 12-0 victory over Ellis behind Landon Erway’s no-hitter. Mason Schartz delivered a bases-loaded double in a 10-run first inning.
Larned will likely feature a lineup of Evan Skelton, Mason Schartz, Landon Erway, Tyler Stelter, Isiah Perez, Johnathon Herter, Colton Gladow and Gage Skelton.
Erway is leaning toward starting Trey Kraisinger, which puts Larned’s best defense and best hitting lineup on the field with Camryn Bryant batting. When Isiah Perez or Landon Erway throws, Larned shuffles an infield spot and Brayden Smith typically bats.
“Trey is throwing well. When we throw Trey, it helps us on offense and defense,” Erway said. “Our expectation was we’d qualify for the state tournament. We are prepared. We’ve played in big games the past few years.”
Larned will meet Doniphan County at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. The game will be available online at https://www.network1sports.com/station/knza
Larned beat Doniphan County 2-1 in last year’s state tournament. Larned's second game will also be available on Internet radio at 10 a.m. Thursday or 6 p.m. Thursday.
Doniphan County (28-3) qualified for state for the seventh time after beating Seneca 3-2 in 10 innings. Doniphan County scored two runs and Seneca pitcher Cody Rottinghaus and coach Jeremy Stallbaumer were ejected by the home plate umpire. Jeffrey Watts struck out 10 batters in a 10-inning performance. He delivered the game-ending RBI single.
Larned had not played quality baseball much of the summer until it played three solid games at the Zone tournament.
“We played a couple of good ballgames and took care of business,” Erway said. “In the spring, we played excellent defense. We have finally started to find our defensive game. But I believe our success will be determined by our starting pitching.”
Erway believes there are several good teams competing.
“Record-wise, there should be good competition,” he said. “Colby and Iola should be good teams. Marysville has a good baseball program and Wellington throws three lefties.”
The Class AA champion qualifies for a Class AA baseball regional next week.
Marysville (21-9) meets the Hays Monarchs (23-7) at 1 p.m. Beloit (21-3) plays Wellington (12-9) at 6:30 p.m. Iola (25-4) meets Colby (21-5).
Doniphan County, Marysville, Hays Monarchs and Beloit will feature Internet radio broadcasts.
Doniphan County games — https://www.network1sports.com/station/knza
Marysville games — http://www.kndyradio.com/xtra/
Hays Monarchs games — http://www.hayspost.com/96-9-kfix/
Beloit games -- http://www.kdcountry94.com/