The Newton Senior Knights and McPherson Drillers have met three times in American Legion baseball play since Friday.


The Newton Senior Knights and McPherson Drillers have met three times in American Legion baseball play since Friday.

All three have been high-scoring affairs. The Knights came through in the latest meeting, rallying for a 14-13 win Wednesday at Klein-Scott Field in the opening game of the Class AAA, Zone 6 tournament.

Newton meets top seed Salina at 5 p.m. today. McPherson takes on the Salina-Newton loser in an elimination game at about 8 p.m.

“We didn’t have much energy,” Newton coach Andy Preston said. “We didn’t look like we had much life in us, much focus. It came down to how much this meant to us. We’ve been scoring runs. Matt (Moreland) came on in the late innings and did a really good job of throwing strikes. (Dakota) Stein and (Gunner) Drinnen both started well but struggled with walks.”

Moreland pitched four innings of relief for the win, allowing two runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout. At the plate for Newton, Cody Opland was four for five hitting with four RBIs. Ben Koerner and Dylan Palmer both went two for four at the plate. Austin Crumrine and Bryce Staley both drove in two runs.

McPherson’s James Moore took the loss in relief. The Drillers used five pitchers in the game.

Kevin Smith went four for four hitting, scoring three runs. Moore went two for five hitting with three RBIs. Aaron Marshall went two for four hitting. Steven Gonzalez and Lane Barton each went two for five. Barton and Marshall Ragland each drove in two runs.

“We’ve done that a number of times this year,” McPherson manager Rory Rierson said. “We’ve taken leads and had trouble holding them. Our pitchers just couldn’t keep up with our bats. Our guys never hung their heads. They kept fighting. We hit the ball well. I feel like Newton is a lot like us. They are a young team. Their pitchers also struggled to get the ball over the plate. I have to credit them for hitting the ball tonight.”

Newton holds a 2-1 lead in the series this season. The two teams have combined for 71 runs in those three meetings.

Newton took a 2-1 lead through the first two innings. Three McPherson hits, including a Marshall leadoff triple, two walks and two errors led to five McPherson runs in the third inning. The Drillers added a run in the fourth.

Newton strung three hits together in the fifth inning to score two runs. Moore hit a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the fifth.

Newton got back within one with a four run sixth inning. Staley had a two-run single in the inning.

Four walks to start the bottom of the sixth led to a pair of Driller runs. Opland hit a two-run double in the top of the seventh.

In the top of the eighth, Palmer led off with a single and took second on a Opland bunt. Coleman Kingsley then drew a walk. Crumrine singled to score Palmer. Zach Stanley walked to load the bases. Moreland drew a walk to score a run, followed by an RBI walk for Koerner and a sacrifice fly from Opland.

In the bottom of the eighth, Smith singled and went to third on a Barton single. Smith scored on a sacrifice fly by Ragland. Steven Gonzalez opened the bottom of the ninth with a double, going to third on a Seth Sterling single. Colby Moddelmog hit a deep fly ball to center field to score Gonzalez on a sacrifice fly. Smith then singled but was erased on a ground out to end the game.

Newton looks for its first win of the season against Salina.

“They will be a good team,” Preston said. “We will have to be ready to play ball. That doesn’t mean we can’t compete with them. The last time we played them, we had a lead, but they found ways to score runs. We’ll start Zach (Stanley). He’ll give us a good chance. We just have to attack the zone and not nibble around.”

McPherson can reach the finals with a win today.

“We’re one win away from the finals,” Rierson said. “You never know what will happen. We’re going to have to play our best baseball.”