SALINA — After a couple of sweet days of play, the McPherson Junior American Legion baseball team closed out the Kansas Grand Slam Tournament on a sour note Sunday.
McPherson dropped a 15-0 decision in three innings to Millard North of Nebraska in the semifinals to finish 3-2 on the week.
Post 24 coach Heath Gerstner, however, focused more on what the team accomplished earlier in the week.
“First and foremost I’m really excited to make the Top 4 and reach Sunday's semifinal games,” Gerstner said. “This was a wood bat tournament and something our guys got excited about. Quite frankly we did not play as well I had hoped Sunday, but still excited to say we placed Top 4 in one of top tournaments in Kansas. We were definitely one of the younger teams there and that is something to be excited about.”
McPherson did not pick up a hit in the three-inning game and Millard North collected 12 hits, scoring 10 runs in the second inning alone.
Gerstner said a lot of things impressed him over the five games.
“I thought Sam Brossard had an unbelievable start against Salina to start the tournament on Thursday and that set the tone for our pitchers,” he said. “I was very pleased with our ability to throw strikes and some of our guys are really beginning to feel comfortable throwing multiple pitches for strikes.”
The team also showed some comeback capabilities.
“Beating Buhler (12-7) on Saturday to make the Top 4 was a big win,” Gerstner said. “We fell behind 3-0, but that is when our bats came alive. We really pounded their pitching and took away any belief they may have had. We want to make that a common occurrence.”
Another player with a big weekend was Zane Myers.
“Zane Myers seems to be a constant for us,” Gerstner said. “He had some big hits and just plays the game so hard. He played about five or six positions throughout the weekend and it just seems every time we put him somewhere it gives us a spark.”
Millard North was toppled 16-15 in the championship game by the Midwest Bruins.
“I thought the Midwest Bruins (which beat McPherson 12-5 on Thursday) and the Millard North team we played Sunday were the best two teams we had seen all summer and that is exactly what we want,” Gerstner said. “I am constantly working to push our guys outside their comfort zone and that definitely happened this weekend.”
Post 24 is now 16-10-1 on the season.