Great Bend, Larned head to state tournament
BY JIM MISUNAS
TOPEKA — The Great Bend Braves will play the Salina Hawks, Iola and Marysville at the Class A state American Legion baseball tournament at Topeka starting Wednesday.
The Braves (14-15) play the Salina Hawks at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Iola Thursday and Marysville Friday.
Larned (15-11) plays Newton Wednesday, Topeka Washburn Thursday and Topeka West Friday.
Semifinal qualifiers will likely have to win three of three pool games.
GREAT BEND BRAVES —The Braves played their best baseball with wins over the Salina Eagles 15-5, Hays Eagles 10-5 and Hays Thomas More Prep 16-10 to qualify for the A state tournament. Pitchers Stefan Spray (3-4), Chayse Gruber (2-4) and Jade Poe (2-2) have led the way.
Poe drove home four runs in the championship game. Joseph Moeder and Gavin Haberman each had two hits.
The biggest dilemma is deciding when to pull a pitcher or leave them in a ballgame with a 105pitch count in effect.
“Your first goal is to win the first ballgame and keep the runs down,” said Great Bend coach Randy Beck.
“We’ve develop a game plan, then adjust every game. They are a ton of decisions to make. The biggest key is throwing strikes to keep the pitch-count down.”
The Braves scored 41 runs in their final three games at Zone.
“We’ve worked better with two strikes and put the ball into play,” Beck said. “Our goal is gain momentum in games and go from there. We’ve gained confidence from playing goodbaseball teams and several older teams.”
LARNED — Larned beat the Salina Eagles 11-1 and Hays Thomas More Prep 9-3 to qualify for the A state tournament. Larned captured the 2016 AA state championship. Pitchers Aidan Smyth (4-2) and Christian Murray (2-0) earned the wins. Dillan Smith (5-1) finished the TMP game. It marks the fourth consecutive year the players have competed at a agegroup state tournament.
“It was nice to throw our main three pitchers and get the job done,” said Larned coach Kyle LeRoy. “Christian Murray pitched lights out and Dillan Smith shut the door.”
Aidan Smyth, Colin LaBouchardiare, Logan Erway and Dillan Smith had two hits in the opener. Mello Bryant and Kaden Pontius drove home two runs in the title game. Larned drew 14 walks in the two games.
“We had good at-bats,” LeRoy said. “We were disciplined at the plate and hit the ball when it was in the zone. Everybody stepped up at the plate.”
CLASS A STATE TOPEKA
POOL A—Topeka Washburn (25-8), Topeka West (18-11-1), Larned (15-11), Newton
POOL B—Iola (22-8), Salina Hawks (20-12), Marysville (14-9), Great Bend (14-15)
7-24—Great Bend vs. Salina Hawks, 1 p.m.; Larned vs. Newton, 3:15 p.m.; Iola vs. Marysville; Topeka West vs. Topeka Washburn
7-25—Larned vs. Topeka Washburn, 10 a.m.; Great Bend vs. Iola, 12:15 p.m.; Newton vs. Topeka West; Salina vs. Marysville
7-26—Salina vs. Iola; Newton vs. Topeka Washburn; Great Bend vs. Marysville, 6 p.m.; Larned vs. Topeka West, 8:15
BEND BRAVES (14-15)
4—Joseph Moeder (3-0)—P-LF-CF
6—Brad Beck (0-1)—P-C-3B
8—Paco Hernandez (1-1)—P-1B-RF-LF
13—Mathew Moeder (1-0)—P-RF
16—Gavin Haberman (1-1)—P-LF
21—Stefan Spray (3-5)—P-1B
22—Esten Moore (1-0)—P-2B
27—Chayse Gruber (2-4)—P-SS-2B
33—Jade Poe (2-2)—P-3B
34—Sage Koelsch (0-2)—P-SS
LARNED INDIANS (15-11)
1—Jacob Grosfield —SS-2B-3B
2—Jack Stelter (1-0)— P-C
3—Dillan Smith (6-1)— P-SS
4—Mello Bryant (2-2)— P-CF
7—Aidan Smyth (5-2)— P-SS-1B
9—Carlos Ibarra (0-1)— P-1B-3B
10—Logan Erway (1-2)— P-1B-C
13—Luke Wilson— P-RF-LF
30—Christian Murray (2-0)—P
55—Gavin Alvarez (0-2)— P-3B-LF