Senior Knights make comeback, but can't hold lead

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Newton Senior Knight pitcher Grif Davis makes a pickoff throw to first base duing play at Great Bend.

GREAT BEND — A couple walks, a couple hits and a couple errors in the bottom of the second inning nearly sunk the Newton Post 2 Senior Knights in a first-round American Legion Class AAA Zone game against the Great Bend Chiefs at Barton Community College.

The Knights battled back to take an 11-8 lead, but gave up a pair of runs in each of the last two innings, falling 12-11. M.J. Alyward hit an RBI single with one out in the bottom of the seventh to end the game.

Grif Davis led the Knights offense with three hits, all doubles, and three RBIs. He settled down after the second inning, holding the Braves scoreless until he had to come out of the game in the sixth inning when he hit the 105-pitch limit.

“It was a big day,” Davis said. “All three doubles were on fastballs. That’s what I was hunting. They delivered what I wanted. It was tough (pitching). The strikezone was the size of the ball. I fought through it. I pitched through two more innings. I thought we all played good as a team. We have to bring it tomorrow. We have to stay on our approaches at the plate.”

Davis is a spring graduate. He will attend Pratt Community College’s electric lineman program.

Newton Senior Knight Ian Akers takes a pitch during play Tuesday at Great Bend.
Newton Senior Knight Andrew Barron snags a fly ball during play Tuesday in the American Legion Class AAA zone tournament in Great Bend.

“In a three-team tournament, it’s kind of tough to figure out how you want to do your pitching,” Newton manager Evan Gilbert said. “The bottom two seeds in a three-team tournament, whoever gets that top seed gets to rest a pitcher and save pitching in the long run. When Grif came out, I thought he pitched really well. Some of those borderline calls didn’t go our way. Then he got over the pitch count. What it comes down to is we had a chance, and that’s all we can ask for. We’re going to have to grind out the next three games to win it all. Our pitching, we still have depth pitching-wise. We’ll be OK.”

Two Newton errors in the second inning led to eight unearned runs.

The next four innings belonged to Newton, scoring 11 runs without reply. The Knights tied the game in the fifth inning on a Trev Golubski suicide squeeze bunt. Joe Slechta followed with an RBI ground out to put the Knights in the lead.

Great Bend loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the sixth. After a sacrifice fly for Tyler Stuhlsatz, a hit batter reloaded the bases. Edwin Chavez drove in a run with a single, but a base-running error allowed Newton to get a second out. A ground out ended the threat.

A Great Bend batter was hit to open the bottom of the seventh, going to second on a wild pitch and third on a sacrifice bunt. After a walk, Gavin Haberman grounded into an infield single to tie the game. Alyward then singled to end the game

Newton Senior Knight Isaac Klub tries to pick off a Great Bend player during the Class AAA zone tournament.
Newton Senior Knight Ryan Ruggerio runs to first base during play Tuesday at Great Bend in the American Legion Class AAA zone tournament.

“What I enjoyed about this team is, even though we got down by eight runs, the dugout was still in it,” Gilbert said. “We grinded out runs in every inning up to the last inning. We’ll still be OK. We just have to come with some energy tomorrow.”

Owen Mick went three for four hitting for Newton with an RBI. Andrew Barron went two for three with an RBI. Blaze Bradshaw took the loss for the Knights.

Brad Beck went two for three for Great Bend with three RBIs. Haberman went three for four hitting with two RBIs. Paco Hernandez also drove in two runs. Sage Koelsch pitched the seventh inning for the win.

Newton;002;342;0;—;11;13;3

Grt.Bend;080;002;2;—;12;10;2

Davis, Boston 5, Bradshaw (L) 6 and Ruggerio; Spray, Poe 5, Koelsch (W) 7 and Beck. Time — 2:28.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com