GREAT BEND — Jack is back.
Jack Reifschneider, who basically has missed the entire summer baseball season because of a severe ankle injury suffered during the Pittsburg State football camp, was cleared late last week to resume play.
And it was like he never missed a beat on Monday in the Class AAA Zone Tournament.
Reifschneider threw a dazzling three-hitter, striking out nine and walking only one, as McPherson’s Senior American Legion handed Garden City only its third loss of the year, 6-1 in the winner’s bracket.
Because of a somewhat bizarre scenario, the victory gave Post 24 the championship and a berth in next week's state tournament.
Garden City was to have hosted state, but due to complications late last week it pulled out. Great Bend stepped in and offered to host, which gave it an automatic berth.
Garden City had to defeat Great Bend in Monday's elimination game to keep the tournament going, but it lost. Tournament officials decided since both McPherson and Great Bend had already qualified, playing the tournament to its conclusion was not needed.
"I knew after playing us and then having to turn around and play right away in that heat, that could be a problem for them (Garden City)," McPherson coach Tony Schmidt said. "They were a good team."
Post 24 scored all the runs Reifschneider needed in the first inning when it plated three, then two more runs were added in the third. The only blemish for Reifschneider was a run allowed in the fifth, but Post 24 tacked on an insurance tally in the seventh.
"He pitched great," Schmidt said. "I didn't want to throw him 107 pitches, but he was on a roll. They were free swingers and Jack took advantage of that. He was just so strong."
Casen Hoover hit his second homer of the tournament for McPherson’s big blow. He drove in two runs, while Marcus McDaniel added two hits.
"We did all the little things right," Schmidt said. "I was happy with the way we played."
For the core group of this team, the trip to state will represent the third in a row. In 2014 McPherson won the Class A State Tournament, then took second last year in the AAA Tournament at Grant Complex.
McPherson (6) — Schmidt 3-1-0-0, Werries 3-1-1-0, McDaniel 4-2-2-1, Starkel 3-0-1-1, Sitts 0-1-0-0, Hoover 3-1-1-2, Kalkhorst 4-0-0-0, Loecker 2-0-1-0, Saverino 3-0-0-0, K. Reed 3-0-0-0, Reifschneider 0-0-0-0.