It took a few innings for the Atchison Senior A’s bats to wake up, but once they did, they backed a tremendous effort by starting pitcher Chase Behler.
Atchison (11-10) picked up an opening-round win in the Northeast Class AAA Zone Tournament, 5-2, against Oskaloosa.
Behler allowed an unearned run in the top of the first, but locked in and shut down the Oskaloosa bats for the next four innings. He racked up 13 strikeouts in the game, but still the A’s trailed 1-0 going into the bottom of the fourth.
That’s when the Atchison bats came alive. Lane Fry and Marcus Denton singled to open the inning. Quentan Reichart, drove both runners home with another single and Atchison wouldn’t trail the remainder of the game.
The A’s added insurance runs in the fifth inning. Behler walked and advanced to third on Harry Trotter’s double. Behler scored on a groundout by Cole Siebenmorgen, and a single by Fry scored Trotter. Fry came around to score on a groundout by Reichart to give the A’s a 5-1 lead.
Behler and Atchison ran into some trouble in the sixth. The first two Oskaloosa batters reached on infield errors. A walk loaded the bases. Behler escaped the jam unharmed, however, getting a strikeout, an infield pop-up and a groundout to end the inning.
Oskaloosa again threatened in the seventh and final inning. The first batter was erased on a bunt, but two singles, a walk and another single scored a run.
The lead down to three and the bases juiced, Behler buckled down to get his 12 and 13th punch outs to end the game.
“We just rode Chase all game,” said A’s head coach Chuck Trotter. “He pitched great. We didn’t give him any run support to begin with, but eventually we got him the runs he deserved.
“I told the guys to just keep putting the bat on the ball and make them make plays and hits started falling for us.”
Atchison wasn’t at full-strength for the game. Injuries have limited the A’s roster and Chance Chalfant even played with a cast on his non-throwing wrist. In the seventh inning, Chalfant hustled to a single to prevent Oskaloosa from scoring more than one run in the frame.
“Chance did the best he could and went out and helped the team,” Trotter said.
Awaiting Atchison is the tournament’s top seed, Ottawa. They will play at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 22 in Atchison.