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Larned reaches winners bracket final
Larned play at noon Saturday
Pitcher Landon Erway


 WAUPUN, Wis. – The first four batters reached base for Menasha, Wis., but Larned’s defense converted four outs.

Larned pitcher Landon Erway set the tone by picking off two baserunners and the Indians escaped with a 5-4 winners bracket victory over Menasha in Friday’s Class AA Central Plains National Baseball Regional. Menasha is a multi-Wisconsin state baseball champion.

Larned centerfielder Mason Schartz rescued the Indians with the game-saving catch on Ryan Conn’s deep sixth-inning flyball and he caught the game’s final out.

“We work hard on our pick-off plays to prepare for games like this,” said Larned coach Chad Erway. “Our defense was strong and was the difference in the game. Mason made tremendous plays to reach some fly balls most outfielders don’t get to.”

Larned (19-11) needed every out against the pesky Menasha Twins, who delivered 12 hits with 18 baserunners. The Indians play Glenwood-Lowry, Minn. (20-3) in Saturday’s winners bracket regional final.

Larned scored its final two runs when Schartz and Gage Skelton scored on Peyton Jack’s sixth-inning error at first base for a 5-1 lead. Schartz reached on an error and Gage Skelton walked.

Menasha rallied on three hits and two walks in the seventh inning. Kelvin Medrano scored on Chris Van Hendel’s groundball. Peyton Jacks’ single scored Tyler Nelson and Griffin Jack for a 5-4 score with two out.

Coach Erway stuck with his son Landon for the final out.

“I downplay Landon’s pitching, but he had them out in front. He did a tremendous job spotting his pitches. It was an unbelievable game and I’m proud of them.”

Coach Erway was surprised when Menasha turned down the chance to be the home team. Larned sprinted to a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

“We’d love to keep the train moving and keep playing consistent baseball like we want to,” Erway said.

After two were out, Larned’s Landon Erway and Isiah Perez singled. Jon Herter singled home Erway. Tyler Stelter singled home Perez and Alex Barger singled home Herter for a 3-0 lead on pitcher Sam Hunt.

Menasha’s Tyler Nelson drove home Jake Zwerg with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. The Twins loaded the bases in the fifth and seventh and had three runners reach base in the sixth.