BUHLER — From 6 p.m. to just after 11 on Wednesday, the Buhler Nationals and Newton Senior Knights began their summer season of baseball with a double header in front of a packed crowd at Wheatland Park in Buhler.
The weather went from hot to cool during that span, and each team went home with a victory.
Game 1 was mostly controlled by Buhler, especially from the start. The Nationals scored four runs in both the first and second innings en route to a 13-5 victory.
Pitcher Bradley Neill started the game for Buhler, throwing three innings of shutout baseball while striking out five in the process. He left the game with a 9-0 lead.
"It was great to come out and see the excitement on the kids’ faces," Buhler manager Bret Konrade said. "It was good to come out and work up a sweat."
Newton did its best to stage a comeback by scoring four runs in the top of the fourth. Ian Akers drove in two runs on an error to cut the deficit to five. The Knights also scored a run in the fifth, but Buhler responded with a run in the fifth and two in the sixth.
"We’re kind of getting back to normal, so that feels good," Newton manager Evan Gilbert said. "We’re still trying to work the rust off."
Buhler pitching held Newton to just two hits in Game 1, although the Knights did walk eight times. Ryan Henderson and Cade Miller each had a game-high two hits, while Briggam McCurdy scored a game-high four runs for Buhler.
Newton struck back in Game 2. After mustering just two hits in the first game, the Knights held a 7-5 advantage in hits.
The Knights rode a six-run first inning to the finish line. When Buhler staged a late comeback in the sixth inning, Newton put the game away in the top of the seventh with three runs for a 10-6 victory.
The Knights forced seven walks in the first inning, recorded a hit by pitch, and a three-run RBI single from Luke Boston contributed to the six-run inning.
Buhler pitching held Newton scoreless over the next four innings, while the Nationals were able to cut the deficit to 6-3 in that span. After Newton tacked on a run in the top of the sixth, Buhler answered with a three-run sixth inning to make it a one-run game.
An RBI double from Akers, followed by a sacrifice fly from Josh Edson and a sacrifice groundout from Ben Schmidt, gave Newton a 10-6 lead. Other than a two-out walk from Neill, Buhler made no noise in the bottom of the seventh.
"It was nice coming back and getting a win in the second game," Gilbert said. "I thought our plate approaches improved quite a bit from the first game to the second game. We got a bit more comfortable getting back in the swing of things."
Newton’s Henry Claassen had a game-high three hits, while Akers and Boston led the way with two RBIs each. Buhler’s Graham Stephens had two RBIs on one hit.
"Pitching wise we could have thrown a little bit better, but we still need to work up to where we need to be," Konrade said.
Buhler is back in action on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Hutchinson Next Level Tournament. All games will be played at Wheatland Park in Buhler.
Newton hosts an alumni scrimmage at 3 p.m. Saturday at Klein-Scott Park. Newton hosts Hutchinson at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Davis (L, 0-1), Casodine 1, Valdez 3, Maxwell 6 and Hirsh, Boston 3; Neill (W, 1-0), Carson 4, Ogburn 5, Gilbert 5 and Ely.
Fenwick, Akers 3, Schmidt (W, 1-0) 4, Cusick (S, 1) 6 and Boston, Hirsh 4; Scott (L, 0-1), Henderson 1, Ely 5, Lipford 7 and Henderson, Ely 1, Carson 5.