Buhler uses walks early, hits late, to down Knights

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Newton infielder Owen Mick tries to get a tag on a Buhler baserunner during play Wednesday in Buhler.

BUHLER — Five straight walks given up to start the bottom of the first inning by the Newton American Legion Post 2 Senior Knights to the Buhler Nationals set the tone in an 11-1 Buhler win Wednesday at Wheatland Park.The game, scheduled for nine innings, was halted in the bottom of the sixth on the 10-run rule.

“We left quite a few on base in the first three innings and we couldn’t quite come up with the big hits, but then we settled down and started coming up with some big hits,” Buhler manager John Neill said. “We were trying to save some arms. They’ve got games coming up and we’ve got games coming up. We just thought one game tonight would be good. It was a good evening to play ball. It was fun.”

“(The walks) didn’t help and sometimes, you just don’t have it,” Newton manager Evan Gilbert said. “(Newton starter Ryan Ruggerio) hasn’t pitched much, but we have needed him behind the plate. We were kind of playing on our heels after the first inning. Fourteen walks and hit batters, that’s too many free bases. On top of that, our approaches to the plate weren’t that good. We had a grand total of what we would consider quality at-bats under 30 percent. Our defense did a pretty good job of keeping us in it.”

Newton Senior Knight catcher Luke Boston attempts to throw out a baserunner during play Wednesday at Buhler.
Buhler National first baseman Reed Scott forces out a runner during play Wednesday against Newton.

Hunter Carson pitched five innings for the win, allowing a run on two hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Sam Elliott pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning.

Ryan Ruggerio took the loss for Newton, allowing a pair of runs on five walks. Andrew Barron pitched four scoreless innings, allowing five hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Jake Schmidt and Griff Davis finished the game.

Carson Moler went three for four hitting for Buhler with three RBIs. Brock McCurdy went two for four with two RBIs. Elliot and Tyler Adams each went two for three with an RBI.

Luke Boston and Owen Mick each had a hit for the Knights.

Buhler drew five straight walks in the bottom of the first inning to score two runs.

Newton scored in the third inning when Mick tripled and came home on a Hirsh groundout.

Newton Senior Knight Ian Akers awaits a pitch during play Wednesday at Buhler.
Buhler pitcher Hunter Carson throws against Newton during play at home Wednesday.

The first five hitters in the bottom of the fifth inning reached base for Buhler, leading to a four-run inning. McCurdy had a two-run single in the inning.

Buhler scored five runs in the sixth inning. Moler ended the game with a three-run double.

“I felt like the energy was there, but at times, we were waiting for something to happen instead of making something happen,” Gilbert said. “We can fix that. We’ve been playing pretty good baseball lately. We were 4-1 at the (Kansas Grand Slam Classic in Salina). On top of that, we’ve won something like nine of our last 12. Sometimes you don’t have it. The key is to bounce back tomorrow.”

Newton is 11-11. Thursday's games against Marion were rained out. Newton opens American Legion Zone play Tuesday at Great Bend.

Buhler is 16-9 and plays in a tournament this weekend in Goddard, opening Friday against the Wichita Spartans.

Newton;001;000;—;1;2;1

Buhler;200;045;—;11;12;0

Ruggerio (L), Barron 1, Schmidt 5, Davis 5 and Boston; Carson (W), Elliott 6 and McCabe. Time — 2:10.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com