McPherson’s Junior American Legion baseball team is the No. 1 seed for next week’s seven-team zone tournament in Buhler and if it plays as it did here Thursday in a sweep of Augusta, you have to like its chances.
Completing its Grant Complex schedule, Post 24 polished off Augusta 5-1 and 13-3 to end regular-season play at 17-7.
“They (Augusta) were missing some guys due to football and we had our entire Junior Legion squad for the first time all summer I believe and it showed,” McPherson coach Heath Gerstner said. “Always excited about a sweep and Augusta is always a solid ballclub. That is our last time we will play at Grant Complex in 2017 and excited to get a couple of wins over a league school."
If the Juniors are to make a magical postseason run, their pitching and defense are going to be the focal points. They were aplenty on Thursday as they now have momentum heading into the zone.
“We pride ourselves on pitching and defense and no doubt Gabe Hoover, Brayden Stout, Jakob Feil and Chandler Wiard were ready to go tonight,” Gerstner said. “Selfishly I would have liked to play a full second game to get a few more guys some work, but can't be upset about a run rule."
Hoover and Stout were nails in the first game, Hoover working the first four innings and allowing only an unearned run, while Stout was untouchable in tossing three hitless frames. Feil and Wiard threw two innings apiece in the shortened nightcap.
Post 24 also had a good night at the plate, including three triples in two games by Wiard, who had six RBIs. Hoover also had a big night.
"I am really impressed with Gabe Hoover and Chandler Wiard at the plate,” Gerstner said. “Both tattooed a few balls tonight and then are running the bases hard and aggressive. We will be counting on both of those guys a lot next spring and excited about their progress."
Devin Feil was another player Gerstner was pleased with as he drove in three runs in the two games.
A highlight was an 11-run inning in Game 2 that wiped out an early Augusta 3-0 lead.
Post 24’s first action in the zone will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday against the winner of Russell and Hays.
• Game 1 •
McPherson (5) — J. Feil 3-0-0-0, Whittker 3-1-1-0, D. Feil 3-0-1-1, Starkel 3-0-0-0, Hoppes 2-0-0-0, Stout 1-0-0-0, Hoover 2-2-2-0, Powers 1-1-1-0, Craig 2-0-0-0, Wiard 2-1-2-3.
• Game 2 •
McPherson (13) — J. Feil 2-1-1-1, Shetler 1-0-0-0, Whittker 1-1-0-1, D. Feil 3-2-2-2, Hoover 2-3-1-2, Starkel 3-1-0-0, Wiard 2-2-2-3, Powers 1-1-1-1, Stanford 1-0-0-0, Rinker 1-1-1-0, Scott 0-1-0-0, Eilts 1-0-0-0.