NEWTON — The first night of action Monday in the American Legion Senior Zone Baseball Tournament at Klein-Scott Field was an indicator just how close the four teams are.
And the night belonged to the lower-seeded teams.
McPherson’s Post 24, the No. 3 seed, outlasted No. 2 Salina 4-3, and then Buhler, the No. 4 seed, upset top-ranked Newton by the same score.
McPherson and Buhler meet today in the semifinals at approximately 5:30. If Post 24 wins to make the finals, it won’t have to play anymore games since it’s the state host.
Post 24 had been 1-3 against the Falcons this year, but all the games were decided by two runs or less. McPherson led 3-1 going into the bottom of the seventh when the Falcons scored two unearned runs to tie it.
But in the eighth, Post 24 pushed across the winning run. With one out, Kolby Reed singled to right field. The Falcons’ defense then fell apart as two errors allowed Reed to score.
Post 24 hit the ball well all night, collecting 11. Reed, in the No. 8 hole, rapped out three hits, while Marcus McDaniel and Casen Hoover had two apiece.
Jack Reifschneider started on the mound and went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and just one run. Caleb Schmidt pitched the final 2 1/3 innings and both runs he allowed were unearned.
“It was a good game,” McPherson coach Tony Schmidt said. “Jack pitched well, but he got tired and I brought Caleb in. We made a couple of errors in the seventh inning, but for the most part we played pretty good defense.”
McDaniel will get the ball in today’s game against Buhler, which used No. 1 pitcher Dillon Engelland in its opener. If McPherson loses the game, it turns around and plays the winner of Salina-Newton, who play an elimination game to start today’s action at 3:00
McPherson (4) — McDaniel 5-1-2-1, Schmidt 5-0-1-0, Starkel 4-1-1-1, Hoover 4-0-2-1, Loecker 2-0-1-0, Myers 3-0-0-0, Saverino 2-1-0-0, Reed 4-1-3-0, Reifschneider 4-0-1-0.