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Kansas Legion AA/AAA state baseball
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Larned baseball qualifies for state

BY JIM MISUNAS

jmisunas@gbtribune.com

PITTSBURG — Larned’s journey in the AA/AAA state baseball tournament starts against Silver Lake at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Pittsburg. Each team plays three pool games.

Larned (10-8) captured American Legion state baseball titles in 1990, 2000, 2016 and 2019. Silver Lake owns eight Legion state baseball championships.

It’s possible to qualify from pool play with one win, but typically it requires two wins. Teams prefer to save pitching for Saturday’s semifinals. The two AA semifinal qualifiers will be heavy underdogs to the AAA qualifiers.

Teams play three pool games, but balancing tricky pitch count limits requires a game-by-game focus. Pitchers are limited to 105 pitches in one game and two possible appearances in three days. 

“Pitch count changes the strategy of each game,” said Larned coach Chad Erway. “At times, there no sense for a batter to swing the bat like they used to. Now, you see batters taking pitches to run pitch counts up.” 

Dillan Smith (3-1) and Gavin Alvarez (1-3) headline Larned’s pitchers. Others expected to contribute are Mello Bryant (1-2), Jack Stelter (1-1), Brady Hope (2-0) and Owen Reece. 

Erway believes Silver Lake, Doniphan County and Marysville feature solid baseball programs.

“It always depends on who’s on the mound,” he said. “Those programs have traditionally good baseball programs. We’ll go with the best pitchers we have and go from there.”

Larned’s pitching has been competitive. The Indians feature fast baserunners and execute the bunting game to offset a lack of offense.

“At times, we’ve struggled hitting the baseball,” he said.

Larned, like most summer teams, has struggled to put a schedule together and keep enough players because of time commitments for training in other sports.

“The game has changed because of the circumstances of players,” he said. “It’s challenging to get any baseball practice time in.” 

Larned’s Legion baseball team rolled past Goodland 15-5 to capture the Zone 4 championship. Larned took advantage of 14 walks and five hit batters. Winning pitcher Brady Hope (2-0) was keyed by a double play turned by second baseman Ian Orth. Jack Stelter delivered the game’s biggest hit with a bases-loaded fourth-inning triple. 

LARNED ROSTER—1 Ian Orth 2B/CF; 3 Dillan Smith SS/P (3-1); 4 Mello Bryant CF/P (1-2); 7 Owen Reece P; 9 Jacob Grosfield; 13 Jack Stelter C/P (1-1); 20 Brady Hope 2B/SS/P (2-0); 21 Carlos Ibarra 1B/RF; 23 Carson Shaver; 30 Eian Sanders 1B; 35 Ty Smith 3B; 55 Gavin Alvarez 2B/SS/P (1-3)

AA-AAA STATE PITTSBURG 

AA POOL

7-28—Larned 10-8 vs. Silver Lake 18-7, 1 p.m.; Marysville 13-11 vs. Republic County 10-13, 6 p.m.

7-29—Larned vs. Marysville, 10 a.m.; Silver Lake vs. Republic County, 6 p.m.

7-30—Silver Lake vs. Marysville, 10 a.m.; Larned vs. Republic County, 6 p.m.

SILVER LAKE state titles 1975, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1989, 1992, 2005

LARNED state titles 1990, 2000, 2016, 2019

AAA POOL

7-28—Topeka Senators 21-11 vs. Ottawa 15-18, 3:30; Hays 19-4 vs. Pittsburg 19-7, 8:30 

7-29—Hays vs. Senators, 12:30; Pittsburg vs. Ottawa, 8:30

7-30—Hays vs. Ottawa, 12:30; Pittsburg vs. Senators, 8:30

HAYS state titles 1961, 1967, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1981, 2012, 2013, 2015

PITTSBURG state titles 1970, 2008, 2009, 2014

OTTAWA state titles 1994, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2017

A STATE SALINA

POOL A

7-28—Salina Eagles 20-12 vs. Pittsburg Patriots, 1 p.m.; McPherson (16), 18-8-1 vs. Doniphan County, 6 p.m.

7-29—McPherson (16) vs. Salina Eagles, 10 a.m.; Doniphan County vs. Pittsburg, 6 p.m.

7-30—McPherson (16) vs. Pittsburg, 10 a.m.;  Salina Eagles vs. Doniphan County, 8:30

POOL B

7-28—Junction City Blues 16-7 vs.  Overbrook Bombers; Salina Hawks 37-4 vs. Burden Central 11-4-2, 8:30

7-29—Junction City vs. Burden Central, 12:30; Salina Hawks vs. Overbrook Bombers

7-30—Burden Central vs. Overbrook Bombers, 12:30; Salina Hawks vs. Junction City, 6

LEGION AAA ZONES (19 and under)

1 TOPEKA—Salina Falcons 9, Leavenworth 0; Salina Falcons 7, Topeka Senators 3; Topeka Senators 13, Leavenworth 3; Topeka Senators 7, Salina Falcons 1; 1ST—Topeka Senators 15, Salina Falcons 5

2 EMPORIA—Emporia 12, Ottawa 3; Pittsburg 13, Emporia 1; Ottawa 20, Emporia 2; 1ST—Pittsburg 5, Ottawa 2

3 GREAT BEND—Great Bend 12, Newton 11; Hays 3, Great Bend 1; Great Bend 2, Newton 1; 1ST—Hays 7, Great Bend 4

LEGION AA ZONES (19 under)

1 SABETHA—Doniphan County 10, Seneca 1; Marysville 6, Hiawatha 5; Marysville 4, Corning 0; Doniphan Co. 6, Sabetha 2; Corning 7, Seneca 6; Hiawatha 4, Sabetha 2; Corning 7, Hiawatha 3; Marysville 6,  Doniphan County 1; Doniphan Co. 14, Corning 11; 1ST—Marysville 24, Doniphan County 21

2 IOLA—Iola def. Wamego; Silver Lake 3, Iola 0; Iola 8, Wamego 0; Iola 8, Silver Lake 3; 1ST—Silver Lake 7, Iola 5

3 BELOIT—Clifton 5, Norton 3; Republic County 7, Smith Center 1; Beloit 16, Clifton 12; Smith Center 18, Norton 3; Republic County 7, Beloit 5; Smith Center 13, Clifton 10; Beloit 11, Smith Center 10; 1ST—Republic County 8, Beloit 6

4 HOISINGTON—Larned 11, Otis-Bison 1; G2—Goodland 7, Ellinwood 3; Larned 4, Goodland 3; Otis-Bison 18, Ellinwood 9; Goodland def. Otis-Bison; Goodland 4, Larned 2; 1ST—Larned 15, Goodland 5

LEGION A ZONES (17 under)

CHANUTE—Pittsburg 14, Ottawa 4; Overbrook def. Garnett; Pittsburg 4, Iola 3; Overbrook def. Chanute; Iola 14, Garnett 0; Chanute 8, Ottawa 3; 1ST—Pittsburg def. Overbrook (SQ); Iola 3, Chanute 1; Overbrook 5, Iola 4 (SQ)

CLAY CENTER—Clay Center 10, Hays (17) 2; Salina Eagles 6, Clay Center 4; Junction City 12, McPherson (15) 9; McPherson 6, Hays (17) 1; Junction City 10, Salina Eagles 0; McPherson 7, Clay Center 2; Salina Eagles 8, McPherson 2; 1ST—Junction City 14, Salina Eagles 3 (SQ)

MCPHERSON—Burden Central def. Winfield; McPherson (16) 15, Hays (15) 0; 1ST—McPherson 6, Central Burden 0 (SQ); Hays (15) def. Winfield; Burden Central 7, Hays (15) 0 (SQ)

TOPEKA—Topeka Senators 8, Marysville 4; Hiawatha def. Seneca; Salina Hawks 7, Hiawatha 0; Doniphan County 5, Senators 1; 1ST—Salina Hawks 16, Doniphan County 0 (SQ); Senators 12, Seneca 1; Marysville def. Hiawatha; Senators 30, Marysville 10; Doniphan County 8, Senators 6 (SQ)