The fourth inning in each game decided the finalists of the American Legion baseball Class AAA, Zone 6 Tournament Thursday night at Klein-Scott Field.


The fourth inning in each game decided the finalists of the American Legion baseball Class AAA, Zone 6 Tournament Thursday night at Klein-Scott Field.

In the championship semifinals, the Salina Falcons scored 17 runs in the fourth inning to top the host Newton Senior Knights 20-2. In the consolation semifinals, Newton scored 19 runs in the fourth inning to top the McPherson Drillers 26-2. Both games were called after five innings.

Newton and Salina will meet at 5 p.m. today in the championships. Newton must beat Salina twice to advance to the state tournament.

“It was one of those things where we gave them some outs,” Newton manager Andy Preston said. “I wasn’t too happy about that. We dropped two foul-ball pop outs. We misplayed two balls in the outfield that accounted for the three runs they scored to that point. Our pitchers didn’t have the location. We didn’t want to waste any more pitching, so we used some different guys who needed the mound time anyway. We wanted to save some arms for (the consolation game) and tomorrow, so it may not have worked out for that game, but it worked out well for tomorrow.”

In the championship semifinals, Newton scored a pair of runs in the top of the first inning on three hits with a pair of errors. Salina tied the game on three straight two-out hits, including a two-run triple for Zach Burrow.

Taylor Bradley tripled and scored for Salina in the third inning.

Salina took batting practice on the Knights in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring 17 runs on 14 hits. Scott Lyon’s third hit of the inning was a two-run McPherson run.

Newton went down in order in the top of the fifth, and conceded the game.

Vince Froome went the distance for Salina, allowing one earned run on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

Chance Thomason, Froome and Lyon each had three hits for Salina. Bradley, Michael Hoffart, Burrow, Austin Parker and Mark Vaughn each had two hits. Burrow had five RBIs, followed by Lyon with four, Thomason with three and Froome with three.

Newton used five pitchers with starter Zach Stanley taking the loss.

Cody Opland and Bryce Staley each went two for two hitting.

“It will be a different story tomorrow,” Preston said. “We need to play with more confidence. They are going to come after us. They are going to want to win it in one game. We understand that. We’ll give our best effort. I’m sure they will give their best effort. Tomorrow is going to be a totally different game.”

In the consolation semifinals against McPherson, Newton had runners on first and third base with one out, but both runners were cut down trying to advance on a wild pitch.

With two outs in the top of the third inning, Opland was hit with a pitch. Staley then took a pitch over the right field fence for a two-run homer. Newton continued the damage with three more hits and a hit batter for two more runs.

Newton sent 24 batters to the plate in the top of the fourth inning, scoring 19 runs on 12 hits. McPherson used four pitchers in the inning. Staley drove in four runs.

McPherson got on the board in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run home run by Jeremy Moore. Newton added three more runs in the top of the fifth.

Baxter Schmidt pitched four innings for the Knights to get the win, allowing four hits and two strikeouts. Ben Wright pitched the fifth inning, giving up a hit and striking out one.

Opland had four hits and four RBIs for Newton. Staley had three hits and six RBIs. Dakota Stein had three hits and four RBIs. Matt Moreland and Ben Koerner both went two for four. Koerner, Coleman Kingsley, Gunner Drinnen and Stanley each drove in two runs.

“Baxter did a really good job,” Preston said. “We squandered some opportunities early. We had some outs on the bases we shouldn’t have had. We finally woke up in the third inning, We got some runs with two outs. Bryce had a nice hit. Some other guys got some confidence. Baxter only threw 41 or 42 pitches. He can go tomorrow. Ben Wright threw well at the end. He needed that. He hasn’t been throwing with a lot of confidence. He looked good today.”

“It seemed like we really didn’t come prepared to play,” McPherson manager Rory Rierson said. “Our loss yesterday was a dagger to the heart. We just kind of came out flat and not prepared to play.”

Rierson said he expects to lose about four to five players from the team.

“We’re really young,” Rierson said. “We expect to have about eight or nine back. We have a chance to be a pretty decent team.”