Junior Knights rally for walk-off wins against Eagles

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Newton Junior Knight Keegan Rousseau makes a throw to first during play against the Salina Eagles. The Knights are off until July 6 at home against Hutchinson.

As in their last doubleheader, the Newton American Legion Post 2 Junior Knights gave up a big inning in each game.

The difference Thursday against the Salina Eagles was the Junior Knights rallied back for a walk-off win.

Newton won the first game 11-10 and the second game 9-8. Each game was called in the bottom of the fifth inning on an one-hour, 45-minute time limit. The winning run in the first game was scored on an error. Mike Seirer hit a two-run single with two outs to end the second game.

Salina Eagle Drew Richardson crosses the plate for the first run of the game against the Newton Junior Knights. The Eagles host Chapman Monday.
Newton Junior Knight Jayden Nash gets hit by a pitch during play against the Salina Eagles. Newton won both games with walk-off plays.

“I think in game one, we still at times struggled to pull together all three phases of the game,” Newton manager Mark George said. “It’s something we’re going to continue to try and get better at. I do like that after the doubleheader on Tuesday, I challenged the guys to be more aggressive and have an attacking mindset at the plate. For the most part, we answered that challenge. We stung a lot of baseballs. Instead of deciding when to swing, we were deciding when not to swing, which is an important mindset. Overall, I liked the toughness the guys demonstrated — even when down.”

Salina Eagle Adrian Panuco makes contact with a pitch during play against the Newton Junior Knights. Panuco hit a solo home run later in the game.
Newton Junior Knight Keenan McCune makes contact with a pitch during play against the Salina Eagles. The Junior Knights posted their first doubleheader sweep of the season.

“We can swing it pretty well,” Salina manager Michael Billinger said. “We just weren’t consistent through the night. We had innings where we’d hit and we had innings where we didn’t hit at all. We couldn’t quite put a full game together. There’s a 17-inch thing over there and we couldn’t get the ball over it consistently. We haven’t been out since Sunday and our bullpen wasn’t quite in rhythm. They’ll get there.”

An error in the top of the first led to a Salina run. Newton came back in the bottom of the first with six runs, sending 11 batters to the plate.

Adrian Panuco hit a two-run double for Salina in the top of the third inning.

A triple by Seirer, followed by a Keegan Rousseau double set up a three-run third inning for Newton. Owen Myers hit a two-run double.

Salina regained the lead in the top of the fourth with seven runs on four hits with two errors.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Blaze Bradshaw hit an RBI single to tie the game. Two more walks loaded the bases. After a strikeout, Jayden Nash grounded into an error to score the winning run.

Myers and Issac Klug each drove in two runs for Newton. Seirer went two for three hitting with an RBI. Keenan McCune drew three walks.

Panuco drove in three runs for Salina. Trevon Cole drove in two runs.

Bradshaw pitched the win in relief of Parker Schultz and Myers. Dylan Puckett took the loss in relief of Tristan Bernhardt and Panuco.

Salina Eagles pitcher Tristan Bernhardt throws during play against the Newton Junior Knights in Newton.

In the second game, Salina loaded the bases to open the first inning. After a pop-out, Puckett and Greyson Pembleton each hit a two-run single. Salina added a run on a double steal. With two outs, Cole hit an RBI triple. 

Newton used three walks, a hit batter and two wild pitches to score a pair of runs in the bottom of the first.

With two outs in the second inning, Panuco slammed a shot to left-center field for a solo home run. Three walks and a pair of wild pitches led to a Salina run in the top of the third.

With two outs in the bottom of the third, Austin Aarons flared an RBI single to right.

The first six Newton batters in the fifth inning reached base, scoring three runs. After a strikeout and a pop fly just beyond the infield, Myers walked to drive in a run. Seirer flared a single to right field for the game-winning hit.

Jayden Nash pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless ball for the win, allowing a hit, a walk and two strikeouts. Jett Samuelson took the loss for the Eagles.

Ian Baker went two for two hitting for Newton. Talen Slater went two for three for Salina.

“They opened the door a little bit because they struggled to throw strikes at times,” George said. “Regardless, we still needed to find a way to get guys in motion off the bat. Jayden Nash came in and gave up a couple of goose eggs, giving us a chance. Blaze Bradshaw did a nice job finishing out the (first) game for us. Parker Schultz did a nice job early in the game, keeping the lead for us. … Mike Seirer, a huge, clutch hit right there against a guy with a little bit of (velocity). I had all the confidence.” 

The two teams split their regular-season series. The Eagles are 13-5 and host Chapman Monday. Newton is 6-12 and hosts Hutchinson July 6. 

“Obviously, we never want to lose, but in the grand scheme of things, hopefully this will light a fire under us,” Billinger said. “We have Chapman on Monday and back-to-back games with Ottawa on Tuesday and Thursday.”

“It’s that KSHSAA moratorium,” George said of the nearly two weeks off. “Since all of us coaches are teachers, we’re obligated not to have contact this first week of July. It’s OK. The guys need a break. We’ve played a lot of baseball in the last week and a half. In 11 days, we’ve played like 12 games. That’s a lot of baseball for Junior Legion. We had to play with time limits tonight. We didn’t have a lot of pitching. Those are the constraints we had to play under.”

George said some the players will get called up to the Senior Knights this weekend for tournament play at the Bob Hooper Classic in McPherson and Buhler.

First game

Salina;102;70;—;10;8;1

Newton;603;02;—;11;10;6

Bernhardt, Panuco 2, Puckett (L) 5 and McDowell; Schultz, Myers 4, Bradshaw (W) 4 and Baker, Schultz 4. Time — 1:47.

Second game

Salina;611;00;—;8;7;0

Newton;201;06;—;9;7;3

Pembleton, Samuelson (L) 4, Cole 5 and McDowell; Mueller, Rousseau 2, Nash (W) 3 and Schultz. HR — S: Panuco. Time — 1:48.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com