As the final outs were counting down here Tuesday, McPherson Senior American Legion baseball coach Tony Schmidt paused for a time of reflection.
“This is the last time some of these guys are going to play here,” said Schmidt, whose team closed out the home schedule with a 9-1 and 7-4 sweep of Junction City. “That kind of makes me sad and happy at the same time. They’re a bunch of good kids. They were some of the first kids to go through MBA (McPherson Baseball Association) and stuck it out. It just kind of hit me toward the end of the game that this is the last time they’re going to play here.”
The sweep improved Post 24 to 20-5 and it begins zone play on Sunday at Great Bend against the host team. McPherson is the No. 2 seed as Garden City is 26-2. Garden City automatically qualifies for state since it’s serving as host, so if it wins the tournament the runner-up team also advances.
Schmidt said his team actually was somewhat methodical in its last Grant Complex appearance, especially in the second game when it left the bases loaded three times.
“We were flat. That first game was OK, but the second game we knew we were going to pitch some other kids,” Schmidt said. “We can’t keep leaving so many baserunners.”
Game 1 featured a strong five-inning pitching performance from Marcus McDaniel, who spaced out six hits. Cody Starkel drove in three runs, while Casen Hoover had two hits and two RBIs.
A highlight of Game 2 was that Starkel pitched four shutout innings and struck out four, giving Schmidt another arm come zone time. Jeff Reed threw 1 2/3 innings before Jacob Loecker came on for the save. Loecker worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth and pitched a solid seventh. He hit a key two-run single in the sixth that turned a 5-4 lead into a 7-4 advantage. Post 24 had only four hits in the game.
• Game 1 •
McPherson (9) — Schmidt 2-2-1-0, Werries 2-2-1-1, McDaniel 2-3-0-0, Starkel 3-1-1-3, Hoover 3-1-2-2, Loecker 2-0-1-0, Saverino 2-0-1-0, Sitts 0-0-0-0, J. Reed 2-0-0-0, K. Reed 1-0-0-0, Wheat 0-0-0-0.
• Game 2 •
McPherson (7) — McDaniel 2-0-0-1, Werries 2-1-0-0, Hoover 2-2-1-0, Starkel 2-0-0-0, J. Reed 1-1-1-0, Loecker 1--1-2, Kalkhorst 3-0-1-0, Schmidt 1-0-0-0, Sitts 1-0-0-1, K. Reed 0-1-0-0, Reitsma 1-1-0-0, Wheat 3-0-0-0, Eilts 2-1-0-1, Saverino 0-0-0-0.