McPherson’s U-17 American Legion baseball team continued its recent surge here Tuesday with a sweep of the Wichita Sluggers, but coach Tony Schmidt knows the true measuring stick will come tonight when it hosts Great Bend at Grant Complex.
Post 24 was sharp and focused in a 9-1 victory, but had some second-game lapses before eventually shuffling its way to a 10-5 triumph to complete the sweep.
“I think that first game we were ready to play,” Schmidt said. “That second game, we saw who we were playing and we didn’t play as well.”
Nevertheless, McPherson is now 11-5 despite a schedule that has been interrupted at numerous times because of the weather’s unpredictability.
Micah McCulley was a strong mound presence in the first game. He threw a five-inning, one-hitter and fanned six. He did struggle with command by issuing five walks, but he navigated his way out of trouble to turn in the complete game.
“McCulley threw good tonight,” Schmidt said. “It was good for his confidence.”
Offensively, Post 24 singled its way to the win, as eight of the nine hits were one-basers. Griffin Myers punched out a 3-for-3 night with two RBIs. McCulley helped his own cause with a pair of singles. Jacob Loecker was the exception with a double.
In the second game, Post 24 spotted the Sluggers leads of 3-0 and 5-1 before scoring six runs in the fourth and three key insurance runs in the sixth. Post 24 managed only four hits, but sloppy play by the Sluggers and some heads-up baserunning by McPherson led to the win.
Myers toiled four innings to garner the win and Caleb Schmidt skirted out of trouble in all three of his scoreless innings as he made key pitches when he had to, striking out five. McPherson was somewhat leaky defensively with five errors, but some baserunning gaffes by the Sluggers ended some of their rallies.
Cody Starkel was 3 for 3 with a double and two RBIs and nearly left the yard with a blast that one-hopped the fence. Marcus McDaniel had the other big hit with a two-run double.
Schmidt is happy his team is going to play two nights in a row.
“It’s been tough (because of the weather),” he said. “Thank goodness for South Dillons (where there’s indoor hitting and pitching room). We’ve been in there a lot. We were in there three times this week. And that gets boring.”
Schmidt also believes playing a team the usual caliber of Great Bend could be what McPherson needs to rise to the occasion.
“I think they’ll be a pretty decent team,” he said. “They’ve got two lefties that throw halfway decent. Tomorrow will be a challenge and we’ll be up for it I think.”
Game time tonight is 6:00.
McPherson (9) — Starkel 2-2-1-0, Schmidt 3-1-0-0, Burney 2-2-1-1, McCulley 2-1-2-1, Myers 3-1-3-2, McDaniel 2-0-0-1, Reed 2-1-0-0, Loecker 2-0-1-1, Olson 2-1-1-0.
McPherson (10) — Starkel 3-0-3-2, Reed 3-0-0-1, Burney 3-1-0-0, McCulley 2-0-0-0, Myers 0-1-0-0, Loecker 2-1-0-0, Schmidt 1-2-0-0, McDaniel 1-3-1-2, Eilts 3-1-0-0,