The Great Bend Braves and Coach Konner Ireland have spent the season growing and working to be at their peak for the American Legion A Zone tournament.
The results of the season’s work showed as Great Bend moved into the second title game of the Zone tournament Wednesday night at the Great Bend Sports Complex.
To get there, the Braves rode the strong pitching of Layton Holden, solid defense behind him and some timely hitting from Will Linenberger, Kyler Fiest and company to a spot in the Zone 1 title game.
The end result was a 17-4 win for the Braves – the third win at the Zone tournament. That after bringing a 7-21 record into the post-season.
SALINA HAWKS 32, BRAVES 2 -- The Salina Hawks rolled past the Braves 32-2 for a state berth for the American Legion A tournament in Leavenworth. The Hawks showed no mercy after a 10-run first inning. Jonas Boughman and Brentley Newton each drove home four runs. Colton Bell, Jovan Suarez and Neil Tabor each had three RBIs. Suarez scored six runs and Bell and Tabor each scored five runs.
The Braves contributed six errors that led to 16 unearned runs. Braves pitchers yielded 24 hits, walked 10 battera and hit three batters.
The Braves scored two first-inning runs on four singles. Jake Kennedy and Christian Zahnter singled. Layton Holden singled home Kennedy. Jacob Hinton singled home Zahnter. Colton Bell retired Will Linenberger and Caden Bieker to work out of further trouble.
BRAVES 17, RUSSELL 4 -- Holden was terrific all the way up to hitting the 105-pitch mark in the sixth inning. By that time, the Braves had built a 10-4 lead. He gave up just four hits in his 5.2 innings of work. He struck out 11 batters and walked just two. Russell scored in just one inning.
That was a 4-run second inning – just two of which were earned – that gave Russell a 4-1 lead at the time.
After falling behind 4-1 in the bottom of that second inning, the Braves immediately responded in the third. Linenberger drove in Jayce Kohls to make it 4-2. Trevor DeLong cut it to 4-3 on a ground ball that scored Jacob Hinton. Feist evened it at 4-all with a single to score Linenberger and even the score thru three.
Linenberger put the Braves up 5-4 in the fourth with his third RBI single of the game, this time scoring Holden.
Jacob Kennedy made it 6-4 in the fifth with an RBI single to score DeLong.
Fiest continued his hot game at the plate with his third hit of the night, scoring Linenberger and Caden Bieker in the sixth to make it 8-4 and give the Braves a little breathing room. Holden helped himself with a double – the only extra base hit of the game – that scored DeLong and Fiest to give Great Bend a 10-4 lead into the bottom of the sixth.
Great Bend padded its lead in the seventh with the merry-go-round in full movement. Bieker singled in Kohls. DeLong singled in Hinton and Fiest drew a bases loaded walk to score Linenberger and the Braves had a comfortable 13-4 lead.
Kennedy kept it going with another single to score Bieker. Christian Zahnter drew a walk to score DeLong as the first eight Great Bend batters all reached base in the inning to give the Braves a 15-4 lead.
By the time the carnage ended in the top of the seventh, Great Bend had a commanding 17-4 lead.
Fiest ended the night 3-for-4 with four RBI. Linenberger had the three hits and drove in three while DeLong had three hits and scored three times.
SALINA HAWKS 32, GREAT BEND 2
Salina (10) 46 (12) 0 – 32 24 1
Great Bend 200 00 – 2 4 6
Bell and Tabor. Kennedy, Brody Feist (1), Kyler Feist (4) and Hinton. W–Bell. L–Kennedy. 2B–S–Boughman, Newton, Suarez, Vaughn. 3B–S–Weiser, Suarez.
GREAT BEND 17, RUSSELL 4
Great Bend 103 112 7 – 17 13 3
Russell 040 000 0 – 4 4 4
W – Holden. L – Baalman. 2B – Holden, Great Bend.
Legion A Zone Tournament
Great Bend Sports Complex
G1 – Hays Eagles 26, Cunningham 0
G2 – Great Bend 17, Russell 7
G3 – Hays Eagles 13, Hays Monarchs 1
G4 – Salina Hawks 23, Great Bend 0
G5 – Russell 14, Hays Monarchs 1
G6 – Great Bend 19, Cunningham 1
G7 – Hays Eagles 18, 2 Salina 8 (Hays Eagles 15-12 Zone 2 Champ)
G8 – Great Bend 17, Russell 4
G9 – Salina Hawks 32, Great Bend 2 (Salina Hawks Zone 1 Champ)