By JIM MISUNAS
TOPEKA – Larned’s first state baseball trip since 2005 was magical.
Larned’s Landon Erway delivered the game-winning hit to beat defending Class 4A-Division 2 state baseball champion Kansas City Ward 2-1 Sunday.
Colton Gladow beat the throw from the outfield on Erway’s two-out base hit in the bottom of the seventh inning. Gladow singled and moved to second base on a walk to Mason Schartz.
Larned (19-3) advances to Monday’s noon semifinal against Concordia (20-3) at Topeka’s Hummer Sports Complex. Ward won the 4A-Division 2 title last year and owns 13 state baseball titles.
“I’m proud of the kids because they kept their composure,” said Larned coach Chad Erway. “We had some timely hits. That’s a tremendous baseball team we beat.”
Ward outfielder Victor Tapia preserved a 1-1 tie when he threw out Erway at home on a base hit by Johnathon Herter in the sixth inning. Trey Kraisinger struck out to end the threat. Erway singled and Isiah Perez was intentionally walked in the sixth inning.
The game matched the expectation of a pitcher’s duel between Larned’s Isiah Perez and Ward’s Cole Henley, headed for Barton Community College.
Perez worked ahead with an effective curveball.
“Perez had them in front all night,” Erway said. “We pitched some of their good hitters backwards and started with breaking pitches.”
The pitchers matched scoreless innings until the fourth inning when Larned broke through.
Tyler Stelter was hit by a pitch and advanced to second base on a steal. He moved to third base on an infield hit by Perez and scored when he beat a throw by shortstop Chase Gonzalez that catcher Jared Paulkovitch was unable to handle.
The Cyclones tied the score 1-1 on a sixth-inning run. Victor Tapia and Henley singled and Tapia scored on a single by Jesus Gonzales.
Perez was rescued by sterling defense. Perez started a first-inning double play. Perez picked off Henley in the first inning. Catcher Stelter threw out Anthony Sanchez on an attempted steal.
LARNED 2, KC WARD 1
KC Ward 000 001 0 – 1 6 1
Larned 000 100 1 – 2 6 0
Henley and Paulakovitch. Perez and Stelter. W—Perez, 6-1. L—Henley, 6-4. 2B—L, Erway.
CLASS 4A-DIV 2
St. George-Rock Creek 3, Colby 2
Baxter Springs 7, Iola 0
Concordia 5, Clearwater 2
Larned 2, KC Ward 1
10 a.m.—Rock Creek 20-2 vs. Baxter Springs 18-4
Noon—Larned 19-3 vs. Concordia 20-3