By JIM MISUNAS
HOISINGTON — Larned rallied past Russell 6-4 to capture the Class 4A Division 2 baseball regional and qualify for the state baseball tournament. It’s Larned’s first state baseball trip since 2005.
Larned’s Isiah Perez delivered five RBIs and pitched seven innings. Perez singled home Mason Schartz after a single and a walk in a two-run first inning. Johnathon Herter’s sacrifice fly scored Evan Skelton for a 2-0 Indian lead.
Russell’s Mason Beagley singled home Logan Braun after a walk and an error in the second inning. Russell raced ahead 4-2 in the third inning. Brady Dinkel doubled home Colton Fritschen after a walk. Dinkel scored on an error. Taylor Rome doubled home Chase Prester on a double off Perez for a 4-2 lead with no out.
Larned right fielder Colton Gladow made the game’s biggest play by throwing out Taylor Rome at home on a fly ball hit by Logan Braun. Perez struck out Tanner Rome to end the inning.
Rome hit Evan Skelton with a pitch and walked Landon Erway and Tyler Stelter to hand the Indians three baserunners in the third inning. Perez’s single scored Skelton and Erway for a 4-4 tie. Rome finished with six walks.
Gage Skelton and Schartz singled to start the fourth inning and Perez delivered a two-run single with two out for a 6-4 lead off Rome. Larned avenged a 5-2 loss to Russell against pitcher Taylor Rome in last year’s championship game.
Perez worked around three baserunners in the final three innings. Catcher Stelter delivered a crucial defensive play by throwing out Logan Braun at third base in the sixth inning. Perez struck out eight batters and overcame two errors and three walks.
Larned will join St. George-Rock Creek (19-2), Concordia (19-3), Baxter Springs (17-4), Iola (14-4), Kansas City Ward (11-7), Colby (10-10) and Clearwater (10-10) at the Class 4A-Division 2 state tournament at Topeka’s Hummer Sports Complex.
Larned’s Americam Legion baseball team beat Russell last summer in similar fashion with 14-9 and 11-6 victories over Russell, including the championship victory after trailing 6-0.
LARNED 5, HOISINGTON-CENTRAL PLAINS 2 — Tyler Stelter drilled a three-run triple to key Larned’s 5-2 semifinal victory over Hoisington-Central Plains in the Class 4A-Division 2 baseball regional.
The Indians loaded the bases off Cardinal pitcher Brad Reif with an error, a bunt single by Mason Schartz and back-to-back walks to Evan Skelton and Landon Erway for a 1-0 lead. Stelter’s third-inning triple cleared the bases for a 4-0 lead. Stelter scored on a sacrifice fly by Johnathon Herter for a 5-0 lead.
Larned pitcher Trey Kraisinger (4-1) preserved the five-run lead with a complete game performance. Hunter Ingham’s single drove home Kyle Lang in the fifth inning. Hunter Hanzlick homered off Kraisinger in the sixth inning.
Reif handed the Indians eight baserunners on walks.
LARNED 6, RUSSELL 4
Russell 013 000 0 — 4 5 1
Larned 202 200 x — 6 5 2
Taylor Rome, Prester (4) and Braun, Taylor Rome (4). Perez and Stelter. W—Perez, 4-1. L—Rome. 4-3. 2B—R, Dinkel, Taylor Rome.
LARNED 5, HOISINGTON 2
Hoisington 000 011 0 — 2 4 2
Larned 005 000 x — 5 3 1
Reif, Hanzlick (5) and Warnken. Kraisinger and Stelter. W—Kraisinger, 4-1. L—Reif. 3B—L, Stelter. HR—H, Hanzlick.