McPHERSON— Anson Hall gave up a single late in the game while the offense delivered a 12-hit payload as the Great Bend Chiefs shutout the River Bandits of Oskaloosa 11-0 in day one of the AAA Legion State Tournament Wednesday.
The Chiefs took the opposition in order over the first three innings before Hall worked his way out of a bases loaded jam in the fourth.
“I knew I had to throw strikes and rely on my defense to back me up” Hall said after Wednesday’s victory. “I have a lot of confidence in those guys which really helps me to concentrate on finding and staying in the strike zone.”
The Great Bend ace wasted little time between pitches thanks to the quick communication between the dugout and catcher Jared Maneth.
“Once I find my rhythm I like to keep the pace going and it doesn’t give batters a lot of time to adjust,” he said. “I think my friendship with Jared makes it easier for both of us and it provides good chemistry between the mound and the plate.”
Jaxx Hillman scored three times in his five trips to the box. Hillman clubbed a pair of singles and capped the night with a walk in the seventh.
“We had really good timing with our hits today which is something we have struggled with earlier in the season,” said Hillman. “But late in the season our lineup started coming around which was something we needed to do to push us through the zone tournament last week. One of our goals is to get runners ahead of Brady (Michel) because we can count on him to get those runners across to score most of the time.”
Brady, the third hitter in the Chief’s batting order, posted a pair of doubles in the second and seventh which were good for RBIs. He then sandwiched a single in the sixth for good measure.
Great Bend opened their scoring spree in the first inning as Bryce Lytle scored on a single by Braeden Smith. The Chiefs recorded a four-run second as Maneth scored first on a two-run single by Hall which also scored Jake Bieker. Hall and Hillman then came across on the first of Michel’s two doubles to give the Chiefs a 5-0 advantage after an inning and a half.
Oskaloosa held Great Bend at bay in the third and fourth before Matt Zecha scored in the top of the fifth on another single by Hall. Michel then singled Hillman across in the sixth and put the Chiefs up 7-0.
Great Bend saddled four more runs in the seventh as Connor Ireland scored on an infield error. Hall then came across along with Lytle and Hillman on the last of Michel’s two doubles giving the Chiefs an 11-0 spread.
Logan Perry finished the outing in the seventh in relief of Hall who worked six full frames.
“It was very important to get out early and that’s why I was glad we hit first,” said coach Roger Ward. “There were a few times where we didn’t execute like we should but I was very pleased how we just came out and controlled the ball both offensively and defensively.”
The Chiefs have struggled as of late with the bottom third of the batting order but Ward saw a different tune Wednesday.
“I’m very happy with those guys. Bieker had a couple of hits and (Payton) Mauler hadn’t played since June 2 and he came out and hit the ball really hard today. Anson also had a good outing at the plate so it’s good to see those bottom guys do as well as they did this early in this tournament.”
On Hall’s one-hitter, Ward says it was what he anticipated. “He did exactly what we thought he would do. It’s what he does every night. He just goes out there, finds the zone quickly and throws strikes. He scuffled a little bit when he started throwing from the stretch probably because his plant foot was landing in the wrong spot but he adjusted. That’s what good pitchers do.”
Great Bend improves to 23-18 on the season.
Due to a schedule change in the bracket the Chiefs will face the winner of Wednesday’s bout between McPherson and Emporia tonight at 7 p.m. at the Grant Sports Complex.