HAYS — The Great Bend Braves were able to beat the Larned Indians 10-0 to advance to the championship game against Hays.
However, the Eagles were able to take advantage of a few errors committed by Great Bend to beat the Braves 11-3 in the Class A American Legion Zone 7 Tournament.
The Braves finish the season with a record of 25-10.
“I didn’t coach them but I know they didn’t win many (games last year),” Braves head coach Randy Beck said. “We just focused on fundamentals and just getting better at the fundamentals. Being young, you can get away with a lot if you just play good fundamental baseball. That’s where it’s at.
“I think we improved mentally as well. Our approach at the plate improved as the season went on. I think that we started to understand the game a little bit better. As a coach, that’s what you ask.”
Hays began the scoring in the first inning after a pair of Braves errors allowed the Eagles John Griffith on base and moved him to third. A sacrifice fly put Griffith across the plate.
“I thought Braden (Jones) threw a really good game and just kind of ran out of steam,” Randy Beck said of Jones, who started on the mound against Hays. “He kept them off balance and we made a few blunders that hurt us early in the game.
“You can’t give a good team extra outs. You got to play solid ball when you’re in the championship. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite do it.”
Four hits by Great Bend in the top of the second, topped off by RBI singles by Derek Simmons and Bryce Beck, put the Braves ahead 2-1.
Another error tied the game in the top of the third, but the Braves were able to score one more run in the bottom of the third to take the lead.
“We had some good at-bats and we got into some good counts,” Randy Beck said. “We just couldn’t seem to get that key hit to really bust it open early when we had opportunities. Then we were playing catch up.
“Offensively, that takes some things away that you would do otherwise when you’re behind.”
Jonathon Allende hit a double and was able to score when Mitch Johnson fouled out down the left-field line.
That was the last time that Great Bend was able to plate a run, and the Eagles scored two runs in the fourth and four in the fifth to end the game.
Great Bend 10, Larned 0
Behind the pitching of Johnson, who went all four innings, the Braves were able to put away Larned in an elimination game.
“We came out and we were aggressive,” Randy Beck said. “We got ourselves into some hitting counts and we really hit the ball well. We hit the ball on the nose and didn’t get fooled a lot. You know, when you’re taking good hacks at the plate, something good’s going to happen.”
Johnson finished the game with two strikeouts, two walks and only one hit given up. At the plate, Johnson had not official at-bats with three walks. He did bat in a run in the fourth inning with a walk.
Allende got the scoring started by driving in Daniel Herrman in the first inning.
The Braves scored five runs in the second inning.
Herrman hit an RBI single, Allende drove in two runners with a single and Dakota Conaway capped the scoring in the second with a double, which drove in two runs.
Dillon Reiser hit an RBI single in the third inning and Johnson scored on a past ball to put the Braves up 8-0.
To start the fourth inning, Conaway drew a walk. Ward followed with a single.
Jones and Johnson each drew a walk, loading the bases and scoring a run respectively. Brady Buehler ended the game with a single into right field, scoring the Braves 10th run and enacting the run rule.
Class A American Legion
Zone 7 tournament
At Larks Park in Hays
Hays 11, Great Bend 3
123 45 R H E
Great Bend 021 00 — 3 6 4
Hays 113 24 — 11 11 1
Cade Parker & Jake Sedbrook; Braden Jones, Jonathon Allende & Mitch Johnson& Bryce Beck. W — Parker; L — Jones. 2B — Great Bend (Allende); Hays (Downing).
Great Bend 10, Larned 0
123 4 R H E
Larned 000 0 — 0 1 1
Great Bend 152 2 — 10 9 0
Trey Kraisinger, Jordan Welch, Easton Palmer & Tyler Stelter; Mitch Johnson & Bryce Beck. W — Johnson; L — Kraisinger. 2B — Great Bend (Allende, Conaway).