File Photo

Hunter Ostertag slides safely into second on a steal attempt earlier this season. Ostertag’s base stealing led to two Atchison runs at the state tournament on Tuesday.

The Atchison Junior A’s opened the American Legion Class A State Tournament with a thrilling, 5-2, extra-inning win against Andover on Tuesday in Salina.

Playing as the visitors, the A’s (11-5) started the top of the eight with a hit by Adam Smith and a walk by Hunter Wahwahsuck. Andover misplayed a bunt by Noah Baniewicz, allowing Smith and Wahwahsuck to score. Baniewicz later scored on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Lykins.

Austin Bonnel shut down Andover in the bottom of the eighth, advancing the A’s to the winner’s bracket.

Aggressive play led to a first-inning run for Atchison. Hunter Ostertag walked to lead-off the game, then stole second and third bases. He scored on Smith’s fly ball to the left fielder and the A’s were up, 1-0, after an inning of play.

The A’s threatened in the second, but left two runners on base without scoring any runs. Andover also threatened, knocking four hits in the bottom of the second, but couldn’t push any runs home as two runners were left stranded.

The Atchison defense stepped up in the bottom of the fourth. Lykins caught a fly ball in left field and fired home to get the Andover runner at the plate for a double play. Ostertag threw out a stealing runner for the third out of the inning.

Ostertag worked another walk in the top of the fifth, and again stole second and third and scored on Smith’s double.

Andover answered with three hits and a run in the bottom half of the frame. The A’s held a 2-1 lead until the bottom of the sixth.

Andover brought a run home to tie it, chasing Baniewicz, who started on the mound for Atchison, from the game. Bonnel recorded the final two outs in the inning.

The game remained tied until the decisive eighth inning.

Smith finished with two hits, two RBIs and a run scored. Ostertag’s speed was important once again for Atchison – his four stolen bases led to the first two A’s runs.

Baniewicz gave up two runs in 5.1 innings on the mound and Bonnel closed out the final 2.1 innings.

Atchison will play Arkansas City, who beat Salina on Tuesday, following the 6 p.m. game on Wednesday, July 22 in Salina.

Doniphan County played earlier in the day, losing to McPherson, 9-2. DC will play at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

The state tournament is double elimination.

Adam Gardner can be reached at adam.gardner@npgco.com.

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