LEAVENWORTH — It’s all about surviving and advancing.
McPherson continued to wade its way through the loser’s bracket of the Class A American Legion State Baseball Tournament on a steamy Friday afternoon by overcoming an early 3-0 deficit for a 7-3 win over Paola.
That victory also assures the tournament of a new champion, as Post 24 had the honor of dethroning last year’s winner.
“That was a good team. They were very fundamentally sound,” McPherson coach Tony Schmidt said. “We started a little slow, but we once we got going, we did what we do best.”
McPherson was down 3-0 after 2 1/2 innings, but started to chip away two runs at a time.
Post 24 received a huge shot in the arm from young relief pitcher Jack Reifschneider, who was dealing over the final five innings. After starter Caleb Schmidt struggled with his control as well as the heat and worked only two innings, the cucumber-cool Reifschneider, who moved up earlier this year from the 15 team, gave up a run in his first inning, then pitched zeroes over the final four.
“He did a great job. He threw strikes,” Tony Schmidt said.
Marcus McDaniel had the game’s big hit for McPherson, a double.
Salina should be a good matchup for Post 24 tonight, Schmidt said.
“Our kids are pretty familiar with them,” he said. “They’re younger than we are, but they’ve got some good athletes.”
Micah McCulley will get the start on the mound. He worked only two innings Thursday as he was pulled against Dodge City after McPherson sprinted to eight first-inning runs in order to be ready for just this type of situation.
“I’m not worried about pitching. We’re in good shape,” said Schmidt, who hasn’t even used Cody Starkel or Jacob Loecker yet, while McCulley and Caleb Schmidt have thrown only two innings apiece.
The lone undefeated teams, Andover and Doniphan County, play tonight at 6:00, with Post 24 and Salina rounding out today’s action. McPherson is now 24-7 on the year, while Salina is 25-12.