Jr. Legion needs to finish it off

By Steve Sell
July 13, 2016

Wednesday’s ramblings...

• FINISH IT OFF — McPherson’s Junior American Legion baseball team could wind up being the story of the summer.

After a forgettable regular season that yielded just four victories — three of those were against Newton — Post 24 was expected to make a quiet exit from this week’s Class A Zone Tournament in Salina.

A victory over Andover was no surprise, but then came a stunning 8-7 nailbiter against Hays, which had entered as the top seed. Then on Tuesday, Post 24 doubled Great Bend, which was then sent packing by Salina.

Post 24 and the host Hawks play today’s 5:00 game and McPherson needs to seal the deal. If Salina wins, a second game is needed because of the double-elimination format. And I’ve seen it time and again when a team staves off elimination, it invariably wins the subsequent game.

McPherson’s pitching is in good shape while Salina has had to play one extra game. Hopefully that will prove to be pivotal.

If Post 24 does win one of the games, it will equal its entire win total of the summer in this one week.

• SENIORS’ LAST STAND — The Senior Legion closed out the Grant Complex portion of its schedule on Tuesday with a sweep of Junction City.

For many of these players it was their final home appearance. They have been the group that made baseball great again in McPherson and have stuck together through thick and thin during the past decade, cutting their teeth in the McPherson Baseball Association.

Hopefully in a brutish zone tournament at Great Bend, Post 24 can make one last stand. The core group won the Class A State title in 2014 and took second in the state last year for Class AAA. It would be a shame if it doesn’t advance for one last hurrah.

It’s been a solid season as last night’s sweep improved the team’s record to 20-5. It has all the necessary ingredients to win the zone and state, even with pitching mainstay Jack Reifschneider having been out for all but one week after suffering an ankle injury at Pittsburg State football camp.

There are plenty of arms to choose from and the team knows how to win. The zone tournament could be the toughest in Kansas.

• A “ROYAL” NIGHT — Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game could have been renamed the “Kansas City Showcase.”

It was all about the Royals in the American League’s 4-2 victory over the Nationals in the annual shindig at San Diego.

Eric Hosmer homered and singled to drive in two runs, while Salvador Perez crushed old batterymate Johnny Cueto for a bomb as well. The two Royals combined to drive in all four of the AL’s runs.

Kelvin Herrera pitched a scoreless inning of relief and tying it all together was skipper Ned Yost, who has piloted the AL to back-to-back wins under his guidance.

The American League thus once again has home-field advantage for the World Series, though the Royals did just fine when they went on the road to New York last year. Still, for the American League if the Series does go the distance, Game 7 would be in its home park.

This is an even-numbered year, which means San Francisco should take it all after winning Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. The Giants’ main competition at this point appears to be from the Chicago Cubs, but we’re barely past the halfway point and a lot can still happen.

In the American League, Texas looks solid and the Rangers have been to the Series twice already in this decade. The AL just doesn’t have that team that looks overwhelming as most are still in contention for a playoff spot.