BY JIM MISUNAS
SALINA — Larned's fourth trip to the state baseball tournament starts at 1:15 p.m. Thursday against defending 4A state champion McPherson. McPherson head coach Heath Gerstner is a Nickerson graduate who has played baseball against Larned.
Larned qualified with back-to-back regional shutouts by Carson Shaver over Chapman 2-0 and Brady Hope over Pratt 1-0. Ty Smith scored on a Deacon Martin game-winning single to beat Pratt. Hope overcame ankle and elbow injuries to pitch three complete games.
The Indians are 12-1 over their past 13 games.
"In the Pratt game, it's rare to have pitchers on both sides pound the strike zone with defense picking it up behind them," said Larned coach Chad Erway. "We played Pratt early when we lost six games in 10 days."
Larned (14-7) placed third at state in 2015 and 2016. La Crosse co-op player Caden Morgan (.310, 22 RBIs), Brady Hope (4-2, 2.72 ERA; .420, 22 RBIs, 13-13 SB); Carson Shaver (4-1, 1.98 ERA, 39 strikeouts) are Indian standouts.
"We'll play our style of baseball. Brady Hope will pound the strike zone and we'll play defense behind him," Erway said. "With a few base hits, you never know. It's a special year because Brady had an elbow injury and we didn't know whether he'd pitch again. Being able to have Brady perform at the level he's playing at, is a miracle."
La Crosse's Caden Morgan has been a pleasant addition to the Larned program. Morgan played in the 2022 state baseball tournament for Hays Thomas More Prep.
"I knew Larned would be a good baseball team," Morgan said.
McPherson's standouts are reigning 4A Player of the Year Hunter Alvord (.545, six HRs, 47 RBIs; 4-1 pitching), Jaytin Gumm (.500, .645 on-base), pitcher Jaret Myers (5-1), and pitcher Ian Razak (4-0), who shut out 2-time 5A state champion Blue Valley Southwest on a 1-hitter. The Bullpups have won three consecutive AVL-CTL baseball titles.
LARNED INDIANS (14-7)
3—Carson Shaver, C/P/3B, 10
5—Cade Colglazier, CF/P, 11
8—Caden Morgan, SS/P/C, 11
9—Tristan Regan, RF/P, 9
10—Mason Miller, LF/CF, 9
12—Camden Bird, 10
13—Deacon Martin, 2B/C, 10
15—Brady Hope, 2B/SS/P, 11
18—Michael Graf, OF, 11
22—Ty Smith, 3B/LF/RF, 11
25—Eian Sanders, 1B, 12
26—Reece Morgan, P, 9
LARNED PITCHING (14-7)—Carson Shaver 4-1; Brady Hope 4-2; Cade Colglazier 3-1; Caden Morgan 2-3; Tristan Regan 1-0
COACHES—Head coach Chad Erway, Austin Weiser, Jacob Shaver, Jeremy Breit
SEMIFINALS—Paola 18-4 vs. McPherson/Larned/La Crosse winner; FIRST ROUND—Paola 5, Rock Creek 3; McPherson 18-4 vs. Larned/La Crosse 14-7; 3:30—Clay Center 21-1 vs. Chanute 14-8; 5:45 p.m.—Fort Scott 16-6 vs. Abilene 15-7
Larned 00 —
McPherson 10 —
Hope and Shaver. Myers and Feil. W—. L—. HR—M—Haines (3).