With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Russell had the tying run on third and runners at first and second against Doniphan County.
DC’s Nathan Gaarder reached back to throw his 98th pitch of the game, striking out the Russell batter to give DC a 3-2 victory on Wednesday night. The win sent DC into Thursday’s quarterfinal game at David Regan Stadium in Fort Scott for round two of the AA American Legion State Tournament against Fort Scott.
“Nate really hung in there to get us this win,” said Coach Lyle Smith of the KU sophomore who came back to play one last season with his hometown legion team.
A low scoring game for Doniphan County, a team who entered the tournament with a 29-2 record, Smith said “It certainly wasn’t our best performance, but we hung in there.”
Gaarder struck out eight batters in Wednesday’s game, walked four and hit two. Defense on both teams held strong behind their pitchers to keep runs at a minimum.
Doniphan County was the first to score in the second inning when a Wyatt Huss double brought in Wil Smith. Russell responded in the third with two runs for the lead. Doniphan scored again in the fifth when Reid Greaser ran in on a Smith single to tie the game. Hunter Idol earned himself an RBI in the sixth when his single drove in Brody Winder.
Russell made a final attempt at scoring at the bottom of the seventh as they started to hit off Gaarder, who was wearing down. Two hits put runners on first and second. Gaarder struck out Russell’s third batter, and the next batter up made it to first, with a force out at second as Gaarder recovered from a dropped pop-out to snag the ball and fire it to short stop Wyatt Huss for the out. Gaarder walked the fifth batter and, after a trip to the mound by Smith for a pep talk, Gaarder pulled out three strikes for the win.
Greaser, Winder and Wyatt Huss had two singles each, Cuttar Huss and Idol a single each, and Smith added a double and a single. RBIs were earned by Smith, Wyatt Huss and Idol.
Fort Scott beat Colby 13-5 in the late game Wednesday.