BUHLER – The Great Bend Braves worked overtime against McPherson, but rallied for a 12-3 second-game championship victory over McPherson that clinched a spot in the Class A State Tournament.
McPherson forced a second championship game with a 10-7 victory Saturday.
Great Bend Braves coach Travis Kurth played his cards wisely in the second championship game by challenging the eligility of McPherson’s starting pitcher Chandler Wiard, who had thrown 48 pitches Thursday, which mandates a two-day rest period under American Legion pitch count rules.
Wiard was ejected after throwing one pitch along with McPherson coach Heath Gerstner. The Braves scored four first-inning runs off pitcher Devin Feil, who was forced to pitch without the normal warmup.
“They came out and did the job and played like professionals,” Kurth said. “We pitched really well and put the ball in play. I’m so happy for the boys. I’m really proud of them. Some day they will appreciate this.”
Starter Townshend Kurth worked three innings and reliever Eddie Bujanda threw the final four innings.
The Braves led 4-2 when McPherson loaded the bases with no out in the fifth inning. Reliever Jesus Bujanda struck out Devin Feil on a foul tip caught by catcher Colin Hall. Shane Starkel popped out. Bujanda struck out Honestee Whittker on an off-speed pitch. McPherson also loaded the bases in the sixth and seventh innings.
“We never do things the easy way,” Kurth said.
The Braves scored five runs in the sixth inning and three runs in the seventh inning to let coach Kurth breathe easier.
Jesus Bujanda delivered a two-run single and Riley Smith hit an RBI single in the five-run sixth. Pinch-runner Christian Zahnter, Calan Haberman, Jesus Bujanda, Joey Soupiset and Eddie Bujanda scored runs.
Colin Hall hit an RBI single to key the three-run sixth inning. Haberman, Kurth and Jesus Bujanda scored runs.
MCPHERSON 10, BRAVES 7 – McPherson exploded for nine fifth-inning runs when reliever Townsheld Kurth was unable to work out of a jam from starter Jesus Bujanda. McPherson collected two hits, two walks and two errors when Kurth relieved.
The Braves’ Riley Smith singled home Eddie Bujanda and scored on a second-inning error. Soupiset drilled a two-run single and scored on a third-inning wild pitch. The Braves rallied for two runs in the seventh when Kurth and Dalton Barfield hit RBIs.
BRAVES 12, MCPHERSON 3
Great Bend 400 005 3 – 12 12 0
McPherson 010 011 0 – 3 9 1
Kurth, Eddie Bujanda (4) and Hall. Devin Feil, Stout, Starkel and Scott. W—E. Bujanda. L—D. Feil. 2B—GB—Kurth, Smith, Barfield.
MCPHERSON 10, BRAVES 7
McPherson 100 090 0 – 10 8 0
Great Bend 023 000 2 – 7 7 2
Hoover, Stout (5) and Scott. Jesus Bujanda, Kurth (5) and Hall. W—Hoover. L—Kurth. 2B—GB—E. Bujanda.