The Newton American Legion Post 2 Junior Knights baseball team is just one win away from state after a 13-3 win over El Dorado Post 81 in the semifinals of the Class A Zone 3 and 4 tournament at Klein-Scott Field.
The Knights face the Salina Hawks at about 5 p.m. Wednesday, with the winner advancing to the Class A state tournament in Topeka. The loser competes in the Zone 4 championship game at about 7 p.m. Thursday at Kenny Williams Field.
Newton scored in every inning but the fourth. The Knights broke things open with a seven-run third inning.
“We got a quality start out of Drew (Barron), Newtion manager Mark George said. “We got a couple good innings from Jake (Schmidt). He threw strikes for us. Our hitters had a nice approach at the plate. We attacked the baseball. Our base running was good. We were a little shaky on defense in the first inning, but we weathered the storm and got a couple huge outs with runners in scoring position. We managed to hold tight the rest of the game. All-in-all, the guys played well and I was happy with the way everyone contributed.”
Barron threw 3.2 innings for the win, allowing three runs on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Schmidt finished the game with two hits and a strikeout.
Caleb Winter took the loss for El Dorado. Kolby Roberts and Ethan Manke finished the game.
Cade Valdez went four for four hitting for the Knights, driving in four runs. His final hit of the game came with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, driving in the run-rule run to end the game.
Valdez also stole three bases.
Joel Franz and Barron both finished with two hits and two RBIs.
Jett Roberts finished two for three hitting for El Dorado, which moves to Wednesday’s Zone 4 quarterfinals.
Trip Baker, Brandon Scribner and John Ferley each drove in a run.
Newton now faces a Salina team that swept the regular-season series 4-0.
“We have to understand that they are going to get their hits,” George said. “They’re phenomenal at the plate. We have to understand that they do get their hits, we have to limit the amount of free bases that they get. We have to limit their baserunners — no walks, no hit batters. We have to support our pitchers. We have to make sure when we get fly balls and ground balls, we have to make those outs. We’re going to have to match them with the sticks.”
While the tournament uses similar pitch-count rules that have been adopted in high school, George said he feels his staff is in good shape. Salina also used a minimum number of pitchers.
“We’re sitting OK pitching-wise,” George said. “But it’s going to take more than pitching. It’s going to take a whole-team effort to get this done. We’re going to have to use pinch runners, pinch hitters and we’re going to have to make substitutions based on the pitch-count rules.”
Salina 7, Junction City 3
The Salina Hawks overcame an early two-run deficit to down the Junction City Blues 7-3 in semifinal play.
The Blues scored a pair of runs in the top of the first, but Salina came back with six unanswered runs, capped by a three-run Ethan Bolen double in the fourth inning. Jarret Pittenger hit a two-run double in the third inning.
Junction City scored in the fifth inning on a Trevor Laughlin RBI single, but Salina answered in the bottom of the fifth when Jayton Mathis stole third base and home.
Evan Vaughn pitched the distance for Salina for the win, striking out seven.
Laughlin took the loss for Junction City, which plays in the Zone 4 semifinals.
Pittenger finished three for four hitting. Mathis, Vaughn and Bolen each had three hits.
Hutchinson 12, Derby 2
The Hutchinson Hawks stayed alive with a 12-2 win over the Derby Bandits in a game that ended in six innings on the 10-run rule in a Zone 4 elimination game.
Hutchinson scored in every inning but the fourth. Derby scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth, but couldn’t keep the game going.
Bennett Turner pitched four innings for the win, striking out five. Carter Booe finished the game, striking out two.
Bradon Unkel took the loss for Derby, allowing just three earned runs in five innings, striking out four. Christian Harris and Trevor Hanson ended the game.
Hutchinson was outhit 8-3, drawing seven walks, seven hit batters and three Derby errors.
The loss ends the season for Derby.
SENIOR KNIGHTS CANCEL GAME — The Newton Senior Knights game against Emporia Monday at Kenny Williams Field was canceled because of lack of available umpires.
The two teams were supposed to have played last week, but the games were rained out and moved to Monday.
The two teams did hold a scrimmage.
The Senior Knights play next week in the zone tournament in Pittsburg.