The Newton Senior Knights kept the Salina Falcons down early, but couldn’t deliver the knockout punch.


The Newton Senior Knights kept the Salina Falcons down early, but couldn’t deliver the knockout punch.

Salina scored seven runs in the third inning to overcome a four-run deficit and hold off Newton for a 12-10 win Friday night in the championship game of the Class AAA, Zone 6 Tournament at Klein-Scott Field.

The previous night, Salina downed Newton 20-2, using a 17-run inning.

“In the big inning, we gave them two outs,” Newton manager Andy Preston said. “I can take part of the blame for that inning. I left (pitcher Ben Wright) in there one inning too long. He was pitching well, and I thought he could have gotten that guy (Taylor Bradley) out. Instead, he hits a grand slam. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. I wanted to see what he could do in that situation. I’ll take part of the blame for that. I’m so proud of our guys. We were right there with them. We out hit them two to one. They got some clutch hits over there. I’ll give them credit for that. They are a really good team.

“They handled the ball in pressure situations, when they needed to.”

The game featured high temperatures, along with a strong south wind, making Klein-Scott Field a hitter’s park.

“I knew when I stepped out of the house today, I knew it was going to be tough for the pitchers — hot, a wind out of the south.”

Newton was led by Ben Koerner, who went four for six hitting. Cody Opland, Bryce Staley, Baxter Schmidt, Zach Stanley and Gunner Drinnen had two hits each. Matt Moreland, Opland and Drinnen drove in two runs each.

Ben Wright gave up seven unearned runs to take the loss in relief of starter Opland. Schmidt went 5 1-3 innings of relief, holding Salina to three runs on three hits with three walks and a strikeout

Salina was led by Vince Froome, who went three for five with two RBIs. Mark Vaughn went two for five with four RBIs.

Michael Hoffart got the win in relief of Scott Lyon. Hoffart went seven innings, allowing four runs on eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Matt Reyna pitched the ninth for the save, allowing one hits and striking out two.

Newton scored in the top of the first on a two-run. Opland home run. Salina came back in the bottom of the first with two runs on one hit with three walks.

Newton scored four runs in the second inning, aided by four hits, a walk and a hit batter.

A pair of Newton errors in the bottom of the third steamrolled on the Knights, leading to seven Salina runs on two hits, including a Bradley grand slam.

Newton rebounded with a run in the fourth inning. After two runs in the bottom of the fifth for Salina, Newton scored three runs in the top of the sixth.

Newton had the potential tying run on base in both the seventh and eighth innings, but the runners were picked off. Salina scored a run with no hits in the bottom of the eighth. Newton got a two-out single in the top of the ninth, but the runner was left stranded.

Salina advances to the state tournament, which begins this week in Leavenworth. Newton ends the season 13-23.

“Our number one pitcher is hurt and out for the season,” Preston said. “We had other guys hurt. We never let down. We got so much better (this season). Our record was not an indication of how much we improved this season. We had some guys really develop into ballplayers.”

Newton only loses a few players for next season.

“Our future is bright,” Preston said. “We had 15- and 16-year olds playing on this team. The junior team got so much better this season. Are we there? We have not arrived. Even if we had won today, we have not arrived. We did take the right steps.”