GREAT BEND — McPherson American Legion Post 24 coach Tony Schmidt knew what he was doing and his faith in Alex Kalkhorst was rewarded.
Schmidt bypassed perhaps his top two pitchers in Wednesday’s American Legion Class AAA State Tournament opener and opted for Kalkhorst, who had not pitched much in recent weeks.
Kalkhorst, Post 24’s normal catcher, turned in a gem, spinning a six-hit complete game in an 11-3 victory over Oskaloosa to advance McPherson into today’s 6 p.m. semifinals against Chanute, a 6-3 winner over Newton.
“A solid pitching performance by Kalkhorst,” said Schmidt, who saw his right-hander struggle in only one inning as he allowed two runs in the third.
The game was tied at that point at 3-all, but McPherson struck for four runs in both the fourth and sixth innings to break the game open and it continued its robust hitting from last week by pounding out 14.
“It took us a little bit, but we finally got on a roll and we hit the ball pretty well,” Schmidt said. “And we ran the bases pretty well.”
Every batter in the lineup had at least one hit. Jacob Loecker, Casen Hoover and Cody Starkel all roped triples, while Caleb Schmidt and Mikey Saverino crashed doubles. Starkel finished the game with four RBIs, while Hoover and Jeff Reed had two apiece.
McPherson will now face a Chanute team that qualified for the Class 4A Division I state tournament this past spring. Schmidt, though, has both Jack Reifschneider and Caleb Schmidt to choose from as his starting pitcher, as well as a bevy of arms in the bullpen.
In the other semifinal, defending champion Ottawa takes on Salina in the late game.
McPherson (11) — McDaniel 4-2-2-0, Werries 3-2-1-0, Hoover 3-2-1-2, Starkel 2-1-2-4, Schmidt 4-1-1-1, Loecker 3-1-2-1, J. Reed 4-1-1-2, Saverino 4-0-2-1, K. Reed 1-1-1-0, Sitts 1-0-1-0, Kalkhorst 0-0-0-0.
CLASS AAA STATE SCHEDULE •
• At Great Bend •
• Wednesday •
McPherson 11, Oskaloosa 3
Chanute 6, Newton 3
Salina 4, Emporia 2
Ottawa 9, Great Bend 0
• Thursday •
10:00 — Oskaloosa vs. Newton (loser eliminated)
12:30 — Emporia vs. Great Bend (loser eliminated)
6:00 — McPherson vs. Chanute
8:30 —Salina vs. Ottawa
• Friday •
10:00 — Loser’s bracket game
12:30 — Loser’s bracket game
5:00 — Winner’s bracket finals
8:30 — Loser’s bracket game
• Saturday •
10:00 — Loser’s bracket finals
12:30 — Championship game
• Sunday •
10:00 — Championship game (if needed)