BY JIM MISUNAS
TOPEKA — The Larned Indians are running wild at the Class A American Legion baseball tournament. The Indians raced past Topeka Washburn 11-1 Thursday to nail down a spot in Saturday's semifinals.
Larned (17-11) has yielded four runs in two games, the first tiebreaker in case of a three-way tie. Larned has a 16-run advantage over the two Topeka teams.
The Great Bend Braves stayed alive for a semifinal berth with a hard-fought 12-4 victory over Iola. Great Bend (15-16, 1-1) has yielded 16 runs and Iola (23-9, 1-1) has yielded 12 runs in two games. By the time the Braves play Marysville Friday night, they'l know their tiebreaker status.
LARNED 11, TOPEKA WASHBURN 1 (G5) — Larned stole eight bases and drew nine walks to cruise to an easy victory. Topeka Washburn contributed four wild pitches and three errors.
Larned pitcher Dillan Smith (6-1) worked three innings and threw 44 pitches to be eligible to throw again Saturday.
Larned's Colin LaBouchardiere's double scored Dillan Smith and Kaden Pontius to end the game after four innings.
Larned continued its streak of running the bases effectively by stealing two second-inning runs. Logan Erway raced home on a double steal on an error by second baseman Alex Haag. Dillan Smith scored on a wild pitch for a 2-1 lead.
Carlos Ibarra's two-run third-inning single scored Erway and Mello Bryant after a single and walk. Dillan Smith scored on an error by catcher Kian Beasley. Kaden Pontius and Gunnar Cline scored on back-to-back bass-loaded walks. Smith scored on an error for an 8-1 lead after three innings.
Bryant stole home on a double steal with Smith. LaBouchardiere's double ended the game on the 10-run rule.
Washburn led 1-0 when Alex Haag singled home Dayton Logan in the second inning.
GREAT BEND BRAVES 12, IOLA 4 (G6) — Jade Poe delivered a bases-loaded double and Stefan Spray drilled a two-run double to help the Braves surprise Iola. Poe drove home three runs. Spray and Sage Koelsch each had three hits.
Shortstop Sage Koelsch and second baseman Esten Moore teamed for a double play. Reliever Paco Hernandez picked off a baserunner.
"We did a pretty good job today," said Great Bend coach Randy Beck. "We put the ball in play with two strikes and made them pay for mistakes."
Pitcher Chayse Gruber (3-4) pitched five innings with seven strikeouts. Relievers Paco Hernandez and Mathew Moeder worked out of sixth and seventh-inning threats.
"Chayse Gruber did a good job," Beck said. "Iola had tough outs. We pounded the strike zone. If we play our game, we'll be fine."
Iola's Drake Sellman tripled home Ryker Curry and Bradyn Cole for a 2-0 lead. But the Braves outscored Iola 12-2.
Sage Koelsch scored on an error and Gruber singled home Brad Beck for a 2-2 tie. Spray scored on Poe's groundout for a 3-2 lead.
Sellman singled home Curry for a 3-3 tie after 31/2 innings, but Gruber left the bases loaded by retiring Kole Rogers for the game's most important out.
The Braves scored five third-inning runs. Spray doubled home Joseph Moeder and Gavin Haberman. Poe doubled home Haberman, Esten Moore and Koelsch for an 8-3 lead.
Iola's pitching came unglued in the fifth inning with three consecutive hit batters and two wild pitches that scored Esten Moore and Koelsch. Poe scored on Gruber's groundout for an 11-3 lead. Coach Beck earned the Braves' 12th run by appealing a play at first base that enabled Spray to score a valuable extra run.
Washburn 010 0 — 1 3 3
Larned 026 3 — 11 9 1
Dillan Smith, Bryant (4) and Stelter. Walker, Ruddy (2), Haag (4), Mitchell (4) and Beasley. W—D. Smith, 6-1. L—Walker. 2B—L—LaBouchardiere.
Iola 201 001 0 — 4 10 3
GB Braves 215 031 x — 12 13 2
Louk, Curry (3), Smith (4), Church (5) and Sellman. Gruber, Hernandez (6), M. Moeder (7) and Beck. W—Gruber, 3-4. L—Louk. 2B—GB—Koelsch, Spray, Poe. 3B—I—Sellman.
CLASS A STATE TOPEKA
x-clinched semifinal spot
POOL A—x-Larned 3-0, x-Topeka Washburn 2-1, Newton 1-2, Topeka West 0-3
POOL B—x-Salina Hawks 2-1 (13), x-Iola 2-1 (14), Great Bend 1-1 (21), Marysville 0-3
7-24—Salina Hawks 12, GB Braves 2; Larned 14, Newton 3; Iola 5, Marysville 0; Topeka Washburn 20, Topeka West 9
7-25—Larned 11, Topeka Washburn 1; Great Bend 12, Iola 4; Newton 9, Topeka West 4; Salina 4, Marysville 3
7-26—Iola 8, Salina Hawks 2; Topeka Washburn 11, Newton 1; Great Bend 16, Marysville 5; Larned 14, Topeka West 7
7-27—SEMIFINALS—G13—Larned 4, Iola 2; G14—Salina Hawks vs. Topeka Washburn; CHAMPIONSHIP—Larned vs. Salina Hawks-Topeka Washburn winner