By JIM MISUNAS
ELLIS — Larned pitcher Trey Kraisinger returned on a mission after missing most of the summer with a knee injury. Kraisinger threw a two-hit shutout to spark Larned’s American Legion baseball team past Ulysses 8-0 in the Zone tournament opener Monday.
“Getting Trey back was a huge help after he was injured in our summer opener against Russell,” said Larned coach Chad Erway. “His slider was his out-pitch and Ulysses did not bat like they had seen a lot of breaking pitches. Trey threw a really good game.”
Kraisinger, 4-1 during the spring, mixed in a fastball and struck out five batters. Daniel Law and Diego Maravilla had base hits for Ulysses.
Mason Schartz led Larned’s offense with a pair of hits and three runs batted in.
“I was pleased the way the guys performed. Our players are used to a post-season type of environment. We played baseball like we’re capable because the games mean something now,” Erway said. “We’ve only really played that well maybe one time this summer against Buhler.”
Schartz singled home Gage Skelton in the third inning after Evan Skelton’s single. Isiah Perez singled and Camryn Bryant reached on an error in the fourth inning when Brayden Smith singled both runners home. Landon Erway scored Larned’s fourth run in the fifth inning after getting hit by a pitch. He scored on Tyler Stelter’s groundball.
Larned iced the victory on the eight-run rule when Bryant, Smith and Johnathon Herter loaded the bases. Gage Skelton singled home Bryant and Smith. Schartz’s double scored Herter and Gage Skelton for an 8-0 victory..
Coach Erway said a little extra practice time helped Johnathon Herter at the plate. Erway expects that type of play to continue in the Zone tournament.
Larned (14-11) will meet Ellis (11-8) in Tuesday’s winner’s bracket game. Ellis outlasted Hoisington 5-4 in Monday’s opener. Brandon Bollig of Ellis will pitch after a 6-3 record with a 1.20 earned run average in the spring. Bollig struck out 90 batters in 53 innings. He yielded nine earned runs. Larned starter Isiah Perez had a 5-1 spring record.
• ELLIS 5, HOISINGTON 4 — Hoisington led 3-0 before Ellis rallied to win on Easton Smith’s game-winning hit that drove home Scott Preifer with two out in the seventh inning.
Hoisington’s Kyle Lang homered and pitcher Jacob Warnken worked three shutout innings. Leadoff hitter Hunter Hanzlick reached base four times and scored two of Hoisington’s runs. Phil Donecker scored Hoisington’s second run. Hoisington had three runners reach base in the seventh inning. Ellis pitcher Easton Smith retired Kody Lang to end the threat.
Dalton Hensley scored twice and Pfiefer and Brandon Bollig scored runs for Ellis.
Colby defeated Thomas More Prep 5-3 to advance to the finals of the Class AA Goodland regional. TMP beat Goodland 8-0 in its opener.
LARNED 8, ULYSSES 0
Ulysses 000 000 — 0 2 4
Larned 001 214 — 8 8 1
Maravilla, Creed (6) and Ballesteros. Kraisinger and Stelter. W—Kraisinger. L—Maravilla. 2B—Larned, Schartz.
ELLIS 5, HOISINGTON 4
Hoisington 102 001 0 — 4
Ellis 000 220 1 — 5
Warnken and Breit. Smith and LaBarge. W—Smith. L—Warnken. HR—Hoisington, Kyle Lang.