TOPEKA — A few too many errors ended one of the most successful seasons in the history of the Newton Junior Knights.
Newton fell to the Topeka Senators 16U squad 11-1 Friday afternoon in the third round of pool play at the Kansas American Legion Class A State Tournament at Robertson Field, Bettis Sports Complex at Lake Shawnee in Topeka.
Newton finishes pool play 1-2. The Senators 16U squad finishes 2-1 and advances to Saturday’s semifinals.
“We had a handful of things that didn’t go well for us,” Newton manager Mark George said. “We hit the ball pretty well early. We just couldn’t get that big notch like we did the night before (a 9-4 win over the Senators 17U team). We didn’t score runners when we had them in scoring position. Give Topeka credit. They made plays when they needed to make the plays. They ran the bases really well. Their starting pitcher did a really good job of throwing strikes when he needed to. We just weren’t able to match them.”
Dawson Logan threw a complete game for Topeka, allowing seven hits with a run, a walk and six strikeouts.
Topeka scored in every inning. Three errors in the first two innings allowed the Senators to take a 6-1 lead on just two hits. Topeka added two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth to end the game early.
Newton loaded the bases with one out in each of the first two innings, but managed just one run on a Cade Valdez RBI single in the second inning.
Joe Slechta went two for two hitting for Newton.
Dayton Logan finished two for three for Topeka, driving in a run. Trent Streeter went two for four with an RBI. Jacob Mitchell, Jack Mills and Kian Beasley each added an RBI.
Jake Schmidt took the loss for Newton, allowing three earned runs on three hits with four walks. Slechta finished the game, allowing four earned runs on five hits with four walks and two strikeouts.
Newton ends the season 17-9. It was one of the best showings for the Junior Knights in the last couple of decades.
“It’s been a really enjoyable experience with these guys,” George said. “I feel like they really grew a lot as ball players and as individuals. Sometimes it’s a little bit of a roller coaster in Junior Legion baseball. Highlights of the year were the zone tournament, especially that last game against Hutch and the way the guys had to battle. They found a way to win a baseball game. Being at state was a nice experience for these guys. Even though it might not have turned out the way they wanted to, they did learn from the tournament — ‘this is the expectation in a tournament like this. This is how we prepare in a tournament format.’ When you compete in a tournament like this, it helps create confidence. The next time you get the opportunity with the confidence, you perform a little bit better.”
George said maybe just one player will age out of the junior team, but several may still get promoted to senior Legion team.
“I’d like to thank the out-of-town kids, Karson Keeler (Valley Center), Carson Considine and Alex Schulte (both Halstead) for joining our club and helping us,” George said. “I felt like the Newton kids grew up a lot. These guys have a lot of time to continue to grow. … They have a lot to be proud of. They showed a lot of flashes of growing into quality players.”
Valdez 2b;3;0;1;1;Mitchell cf;1;1;0;1
Keeler ss;3;0;1;0;Dreisigaker rf;3;1;1;0
Loomis lf;3;0;1;0;Streeter ss;4;2;2;1
Schmidt 3b;3;0;1;0;Day.Logan 3b;3;1;2;1
Schulte dh;2;0;0;0;Mills 1b;2;1;1;1
Hirsh c;2;0;0;0;Walker 2b;2;1;0;0
Ellette 1b;2;1;1;0;Beasley dh;2;1;1;1
Slechta p;2;0;2;0;Haag lf;2;2;1;0
Ruggerio cf;1;0;0;0;Daniels c;2;1;0;0
There was one out when the game ended.
E — Schmidt 2, Ellette, Lies, Hirsh 3. DP — Newton, Topeka. LOB — New. 6, Top. 6. 2B — Slechta, Mills. 3B — Streeter. SB — Streeter, Mitchell 2, Dreisigaker. CS — Beasley.
WP — Schmidt, Slechta. PB — Hirsh. HBP — Beasley (Slechta). Time — 1:28.