160729_hwsports_nate

Joey May/Hiawatha World

Doniphan County’s Nathan Gaarder reaches back to fire a pitch against Russell Monday night. Gaarder picked up a key triple against Fort Scott on Thursday.

Doniphan County’s American Legion baseball team is on a roll.

The team recorded a 5-3 win over Fort Scott Thursday and is headed to the AA State Tournament semifinals.

The win at Dave Regan Stadium in Fort Scott upped the team’s record to 31-2 and puts it on a collision course with Larned Friday night. Larned blanked Goodland 10-0 to set up the semifinal clash.

While it hasn’t been pretty at times, and Doniphan County’s bats have been unusually quiet this week, a few key hits and some well-played defense have helped the team move through the winner’s bracket.

Doniphan County has had two of its lowest scoring games this week at the state tournament, but it has been enough to get the job done and send them into the semifinals.

On Thursday, two standouts pulled out the win for Doniphan County— pitcher Brody Winder, who struck out 12 in seven innings and kept Fort Scott runners off the bases — and third baseman Nate Gaarder, whose base-clearing triple in the top of the sixth inning was only the third hit of the game for Doniphan County, but gave them the lead and the win.

It was Gaarder’s first hit of the game and his fellow teammates struggled at the plate as well, with singles by only Winder, Tucker Morris and Wyatt Huss.

A double to the wall by Fort Scott brought around a run in the first inning and another came in on a passed ball to build a 2-0 advantage in the first inning. Fort Scott hit a fly to the gap in the outfield to bring in a run in the third to boost its lead to 3-0 after three frames.

Doniphan County’s bats were silent for the most part the first four innings, although several players coaxed walks, but runners remained stranded.

In the fifth, walks helped Doniphan County load the bases and Gaarder was hit by a pitch to bring in Hunter Idol for the team’s first run of the game. The sixth inning started out much the same, with the bases loaded on walks. Cuttar Huss drew another walk to bring Wyatt Huss across the plate.

Gaarder stepped in and laced the ball to the wall, bringing in Luke Smith, Reid Greaser and Cuttar Huss for three runs and the final margin.

The tournament continues Saturday with championship games and, if needed, a final game is set for Sunday morning.

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

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