By Jim Misunas
LARNED – The Larned High School Indians pitched well enough to win the Class 4A Division-II baseball regional. But the Russell Broncos hit better and played defense better.
Larned handed Russell the momentum with a pair of errors.The Broncos scored three runs and beat Larned 5-2 to clinch a berth in the Class 4A Division II state baseball tournament at Pratt Community College May 29-30.
Russell pitcher Taylor Rome (4-1) yielded two unearned second-inning runs, and threw five shutout innings after the error. Rome struck out six batters and did a nifty job keeping the Indians off balance.
Rome’s best work came in the third inning after Easton Palmer’s leadoff triple. Rome retired Tyler Stelter on a pop fly and retired Camryn Bryant and Brayden Smith on back-to-back line outs to shortstop Brady Dinkel. He also overcame two walks to start the fifth inning.
“Taylor showed what he was made of,” said Russell coach Zach Shipley. “He made great pitches when he needed them. We played really good baseball today.”
Larned coach Chad Erway gave credit to Rome, who spotted his fastball effectively.
“He didn’t throw a lot of off-speed and stuck with his fastball,” Erway said. “We got some good swings and hit some balls right at them. That’s baseball. I was proud of our guys, but Russell played better baseball.”
Even a temporary power outage could not stop Russell High’s march to the Class 4A Division II state baseball tournament.
Russell led Larned 5-2 in the seventh inning Monday when the lights went out at 9:10 p.m. Play resumed at 9:33 p.m.
Russell (14-8) qualifies for state baseball for the first time since 2008. Larned ends with a 15-7 record. The Indians last qualified for the state baseball tournament in 2005.
Larned led 2-0 when Brayden Smith and Mason Schzrtz scored with two out when second baseman Logan Braun dropped a second-inning pop fly.
Larned coach Erway proved prophetic when he believed his team needed solid defense to win the regional.
Grant Weber doubled and scored on a wild throw by catcher Tyler Stelter after aggressively stealing third base on a ball in the dirt.
Chase Prester reached on a fielder’s choice and scored when Trey Kraisinger’s tag was a moment late on a ball that slipped past Stelter. Brady Dinkel extended the inning when he reached on an error. Dinkel scored on Rome’s line shot that bounced off Kraisinger’s leg for a 3-2 lead.
“That’s the way our guys run the bases,’ Shipley said. “When they got on base, they are always thinking how they will get to the next base.”
Russell earned its two runs in the fifth inning off Kraisinger. Dinkel and Braun hit back-to-back singles and Rome moved them into scoring position on a groundout. Cleanup hitter Rohr delivered a two-out, two run single for a 5-2 lead.
LARNED 12, PRATT 2
Larned earned payback for a season-ending basketball loss with a dominating regional baseball victory. Evan Skelton’s RBI single brought home Camryn Bryant for a 10-run victory in six innings Monday.
Starter Easton Palmer struck out seven batters and worked out of bases-loaded situations in the first and third innings. A double by Hayden Schrag scored Jacob Kurz after a first-inning Larned error.
The Indians had no trouble solving starter Will Fellhoelter and reliever Kurz.
Landon Erway scored on Palmer’s groundout and Isiah Perez scored on Tyler Stelter’s sacrifice fly for a 2-1 lead. Stelter’s two-run triple scored Perez and Palmer after back-to-back singles in the third inning.Stelter scored on a wild pitch for an 8-1 lead.
Mason Schartz singled and Perez doubled and they scored on Palmer’s triple in the fourth inning. Palmer scored on on Stelter’s groundball for an 8-1 lead.
Brett Forshee’s double scored Dakota Venard in the fifth. But Larned answered when Brayden Smith scored when Pratt mishandled Trey Kraisinger’s bunt single. Erway’s single scored Kraisinger for a 10-2 lead.
RUSSELL 18, HOISINGTON 5
Russell roared to a 9-0 lead and coasted into the championship game with an easy 18-5 victory over Hoisington (11-8). Russell and Hoisington had split a doubleheader earlier this season.
The Broncos closed out a 18-run ballgame with a five-run seventh inning. Brady Dinkel had four hits. Taylor Rome, Brandon Bachar, Brandon Rigley and Chase Prester each had two runs batted in.
The Broncos scored three runs in the first inning and six runs in the second. Two Broncos scored after hit-by-pitches and two others scored after walks. The Cardinals contributed eight errors, three errors in the second inning.
Bachar, Mason Beagley and Rigley delivered RBIs in the first. Bachar hit his second sacrifice fly and Rigley’s double and Rome’s single made it 9-0.
The Cardinals scored some spark when Zac Phloehouft’s two-run double scored Zade Sanders and Brad Reif after back-to-back second-inning singles.
Russell built a 12-2 lead when Kaden Rohr and Dinkel scored on wild pitches. Logan Braun drove in Prester on a groundout.
The Cardinals bunched together four consecutive ffth-inning singles for a 12-4 score when Terry Crawford, Colton Zink, Braeden Crites and Hunter Hanzlick singled. Crites scored on Jacob Warnken’s groundball for a 12-5 margin. Zade Sanders had three hits for the Cardinals.