SALINA — Braden Jones of the Great Bend Chiefs and the Salina Falcons’ Keenan Breen battled on the mound in Game 1 of a Class AAA American Legion doubleheader on Wednesday night at Dean Evans Stadium.
The Chiefs broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third and went on to win the opener, 7-5.
“We hit the ball well on offense,” Great Bend head coach Michael Stettinger said. “Braden Jones gave us a great game on the mound. He almost went a full game. Our defense did a good job mostly behind him.
“We kind of struggled at the plate early on. We were a little shaky, but later on, we started swinging the bat and getting balls in play.”
Great Bend improved to 5-12 on the season.
Matthew Zecha drew a walk and moved to third on a Shade Wondra double. Jaxx Hillman grounded out, scoring Matthew Zecha, and Bryce Beck grounded out to move Wondra across the plate.
Johnny Allende added a two-out double and moved to third base on a wild pitch before Dillon Reiser drove him in with a single.
Salina answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning, making it 3-2.
The Falcons took a 4-3 lead in the fifth, but the Chiefs answered in the top of the sixth.
“We scored when we had runners in scoring position and that’s what we have to do to win those games,” Stettinger said. “We had too many strikeouts looking the first two times. But after that, we got the kids going up there swinging. They put some balls in play.
“When we had runners in scoring position, that’s when we had some key hits.”
Tristan Hall reached base on an error, Anson Hall was hit by a pitch and Matthew Zecha was walked to load the bases. Logan Zecha, running for catcher Anson Hall, scored when Hillman, who had a pair of runs batted in during the game, drew a walk, and three runs scored on a throwing error after Beck put the ball in play.
Jones went 6 2/3 innings and had a pair of strikeouts. He allowed eight hits and five runs before he was relieved in the bottom of the sixth.
Tristan Hall came on to get Josh Dolan to fly out, ending the game with two runners on base.
“You hate to pull a kid with one out left, but Braden’s arm was getting a little tired,” Stettinger said. “It was time to go to Tristan, and he did a good job coming in and closing for us.
“Braden gave us opportunity after opportunity to stay in the game. He competed the entire time.”
Allende led the Chiefs, going 2-for-4.
Great Bend 9, Salina 3
Great Bend, which improved to 6-12, jumped ahead 2-0 in the top of the first of the nightcap.
Beck, who started on the mound for the Chiefs, scored on a bases-loaded walk, and Tristan Hall flew out to left field, scoring Wondra.
Salina responded with two runs in the bottom of the first, and one more in the second for a 3-2 advantage.
After that, Salina starting pitcher Robert James and Beck put a lid on the scoring until the top of the fifth.
The Chiefs chased James with a string of RBI singles from Reiser, Tyler Nuss and Jared Maneth.
Dalton Dooley came in to pitch for the Falcons and Logan Zecha and Beck each hit RBI singles. Dooley had a bases-loaded walk before Matt Rowe came on in relief.
Rowe hit a batter to allow one more run before striking out Reiser to end the inning with a 9-3 Great Bend lead.
Beck had seven strikeouts and allowed nine hits and three runs in pitching a complete game.
CLASS AAA AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL
Dean Evans Stadium
Great Bend 7, Salina 5
123 456 7 R H E
Great Bend 003 004 0 — 7 5 1
Salina 002 021 0 — 5 8 3
Braden Jones, Tristan Hall (7) & Anson Hall; Keenan Breen, Conner Broyle (6) & Mason Brightbill. W — Jones. L — Breen. S — Tristan Hall. 2B — Great Bend (Shade Wondra, Johnny Allende); Salina (Breen).
Great Bend 9, Salina 3
123 456 7 R H E
Great Bend 200 070 0 — 9 12 1
Salina 210 000 0 — 3 9 1
Bryce Beck & Jared Maneth; Robert James, Dalton Dooley (5), Matt Rowe (5) & Dane Long. W — Beck. L — James. 2B — Salina (Broyle).