GREAT BEND — It was a late night for the McPherson Junior American Legion baseball team.
Or was it an early morning?
The Juniors played deep into Thursday night and returned home early this morning with a split of their zone games.
The opener was a heart-breaker as Post 24 took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t get the final outs necessary for the win. Andover charged back with three runs to pull out the 6-5 victory.
“Sam Brossard started on the mound and gave us six good innings,” McPherson coach Heath Gerstner said. “He commanded the zone and I don't believe he gave up an earned run. However as a team we lacked energy and enthusiasm to win a postseason game.”
Brossard led the offense with a couple of hits and Gerstner said Zane Myers had a big hit in the seventh that seemingly gave McPherson the pad it needed.
Post 24 then appeared to be headed for extinction in the loser’s bracket game with arch-rival Buhler. It went down seven runs in the second inning, but charged back and scored 10 unanswered runs for the victory.
“We have seen them about seven times this summer and it just seems the rivalry gets bigger and bigger,” Gerstner said. “We came out flat and Buhler came out determined and energized. The guys responded well and played three of the best innings we have played all summer to come back and tie the game 7-7. We extended lead to 10-7 in bottom of sixth. Tyler Wheat was arguably player of game with a huge double with bases loaded to ignite us, but our guys really had nice at-bats after giving up the seven-run inning.”
Gunnar Reiss was the winner in relief and Trey Hanken struck out the side in the seventh as there was no last-inning collapse this time.
McPherson is playing at 3:00 today, though it’s opponent has not been determined. A victory and Post 24 would play at 5:30 against No. 1-seed Dodge City, with a win in that game punching a ticket to state. According to Gertsner, Andover already has qualified as its win over Dodge City advanced it on.