It was a topsy-turvy week for the Doniphan County Post 55 American Legion baseball team as they battled for a chance at a return trip to AA State, but in the end, a fourth-straight trip to state was exactly what they got.
Early in the week, DC took wins over Corning, Silver Lake and Seneca, but couldn’t get the bats rolling and were shut out by Marysville.
On Thursday night, DC battled Sabetha — who had been knocked into the loser’s bracket by Marysville Wednesday night — for a chance at the state tournament. Marysville earned the top spot, but the top two teams from Zone advance to the State Tournament each year — this year set for Marysville starting Wednesday, July 26.
In DC’s final Zone match-up Thursday, DC sealed their trip to another state tournament with a 6-5 win over Sabetha.
DC pulled out to a 3-0 lead after one inning as Tyler Franken singled, Wil Smith doubled and a sacrifice by Chris Winkel drove in a run. Zeb Speer’s double drove in Smith and a Bryson Kirkland single brought in Speer.
Sabetha added 2 runs in the bottom of second off a single.
Sabetha pulled ahead by 2 runs in the bottom of third and added another in the bottom of the fourth for a 5-3 lead.
In the fifth, Reid Greaser doubled, followed by a Tyler Franken single. Chris Winkel hit a single for an RBI. DC tied it up at 5-5 in the sixth as Bryson Kirkland singled, stole second and ran home on a wild throw to second in Sabetha’s attempt to pick off Clayton Ridout. With Brock Blair and Ridout on base, Sabetha intentionally walked Smith and Winkel popped out to end the inning.
Sabetha couldn’t get any base runners on in the bottom of the sixth, and DC pulled in the winning run as a Brock Blair single brought around Levi Watts to score in the top of the seventh. Three quick outs on the field put DC on the road to state.
On Sunday, D.C. advanced with a 10-2 win. Corning scored on a pair of DC errors in the first inning, but then DC settled in and left Corning behind. In the bottom of the second, DC batted around and scored three runs, with highlights including Tyler Franken’s 2-run single and Reid Greaser’s 2-run double. Franken added an RBI single in the third and suddenly DC was up 7-2.
DC capitalized off five hits for three runs in the bottom of the sixth for the win. Levi Watts had an RBI single and was 3-for-3 with a double, 1 RBI and 2 runs. Franken was 3-4 on the night with a triple and 3 RBIs and Greaser went 1-3 with a double and 3 RBIs.
Zeb Speer started DC out on the mound and struck out five batters before Levi Watts came in for relief the last inning and a half.
On Monday, DC could not get the bats moving and only Zeb Speer got a hit off a single. Marysville ended with nine hits as they run-ruled Doniphan County in four innings to win 10-0.
Tuesday night, Doniphan County came to play with Bryson Kirkland on the mound, taking a 13-3 victory over Silver Lake, called after 6 innings due to the run rule.
Doniphan County got off to a 2-0 start as walks loaded bases and another walk brought around a run. In a confusing call on what appeared to be a dropped ball in the outfield off a Zeb Speer hit, another run came in, but the remaining batters on base were called out.
Silver Lake brought in 1 run in the bottom of the first off a single. Silver Lake took a short-lived lead in the second, getting on base with a double and a walk, and an overthrow to first brought in one run. A well-placed hit right over the pitcher’s head gave Silver Lake another chance at the plate and they led 3-2. But it was the last time that Silver Lake would score.
Doniphan County responded in a big way in the top of the third as Reid Greaser started them out with a single. Tyler Franken and Wil Smith both hit pop flies for outs and then DC went on a run, going through the batting order. Chris Winkel singled and a double by Speer drove him home. Levi Watts hit a nice double down the line for 2 RBIs and Kirkland followed with a single to drive home Watts. Clayton Ridout had a double for an RBI and Brock Blair hit a double to center for 2 RBIs. A total of 6 runs came in for a big DC lead 8-3 after three innings.
DC added another run in the fifth inning as a Greaser double to center brought around Ridout — who had singled to get on base.
In the sixth inning, Speer and Kirkland got on base each with a single and Marcus Martinez walked to load bases. Greaser hit a grand slam on the very first pitch for 4 runs and the final DC score. Doniphan allowed two Silver Lake batters on base in the sixth, but the offense made quick work of the next three batters for the win and the chance to advance to Wednesday night’s game as the Zone Tournament continued.
Greaser had a single, a double and a grand slam with 5 RBIs, Franken a single and a double, Ridout a single and a double, Watts a double, Winkel a single, Kirkland 2 singles and Blair a double.
On Wednesday evening, Doniphan County kept their second chance run rolling, collecting a 10-5 win against Seneca to stay alive for a chance at the State Tournament.
Wil Smith and Reid Greaser put bookends on the game, as Smith crushed a first inning home run, and Greaser put the cherry on the game with a long ball in the seventh. After going 1-8 at the plate at that point in Zone, Smith came up with Tyler Franken aboard and barreled a ball that easily sailed over the fence in left-center to give DC the early 2-0 lead. Doniphan added another run in the fourth, as Zeb Speer cruised on the mound, pitching a no-hitter into the bottom of the fourth.
Seneca came to life that inning, stringing a pair of singles together before Jace Kramer crushed a ball over the wall to bring the game to 3-3. The stalemate would not last, as Doniphan County would capitalize on a two-out Seneca error to keep themselves alive in the fifth, eventually scoring 6 runs in the inning on three singles, two walks and two errors. Seneca struck back in the bottom of the next inning, chasing Speer after five and two-thirds innings with a walk, a single, and a 2-run double by Luke Wright. Levi Watts came on in relief of Speer, and after walking the bases full, got the benefit of a running catch in foul territory by right fielder Clayton Ridout to close out the inning.
Leading 9-5 heading into the seventh, Greaser had a leadoff bomb, and Watts closed out the contest with a pair of strikeouts to seal the game for DC. Smith put together a 3-5 day at the plate, knocking in 4 runs and scoring once to lead the offense, while Speer whiffed four batters, allowing 5 runs and seven hits over five and two-thirds innings to pick up the win for Doniphan County.