WATHENA – For the second straight game, the Atchison Junior A’s got off to a running start.
Then they kept running – and running, and running some more.
Atchison racked up 21 stolen bases against Marysville in a 13-8 win in the second round of the Northeast Zone Tournament. The aggression led to several Marysville throwing errors, which opened the door for the A’s to be even more aggressive.
“We’re going to keep pushing,” said Coach White. “We like to make things happen and if you don’t try it, you don’t know if you can do it. We’re always going to push.”
Things started to happen with leadoff batter, Hunter Ostertag. He walked to open the game, stole second and third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Smith. Austin Bonnel, Hunter Wahwahsuck and Parker Welch all reached and scored in the first inning. Wahwahsuck and Welch scored on a single by Noah Baniewicz.
Marysville answered in the bottom half of the inning and the game was tied 4-4 after one.
Ostertag worked his wheels again in the second inning. He walked, stole second and third again, then baited the catcher into making a throw to third after a pitch. Ostertag broke on the throw, successfully stealing home for the second day in a row.
The A’s finally got some separation in the fourth inning. Augie Scholz walked and scored on Ostertag’s double. Ostertag stole third and scored on the catcher’s errant throw. Smith walked and stole two bases before scoring on a wild pitch. Atchison led 8-5 after four.
They added another run in the fifth, but Marysville closed the gap to 9-8 heading into the seventh and final inning. Atchison struck again, however, scoring four runs to nail the coffin shut on Marysville.
Baniewicz singled, Sean Mason walked and Augie Scholz reached on an error, which scored Baniewicz. Ostertag ripped a two-run triple and then scored on an error. Bonnel closed the door for good in the bottom of the frame without allowing a baserunner.
Kevin Lykins started on the mound for the A’s, working five innings before Bonnel pitched the final two. White said his pitchers worked hard in the hot, sticky conditions, but his team has plenty to improve on despite the win, calling their play “mediocre.” Although they racked up several steals, the A’s made some mental errors on the base paths.
“We’ve performed better,” he said. “We can be better defensively and running the bases.”
Next up for Atchison is the winner of the Leavenworth/Doniphan County game that was played late Tuesday. The A’s are 9-3 on the season and, more importantly, 2-0 in the double-elimination tournament.
Atchison will play at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 16. If they lose that game, they’ll turn around and play again on Thursday in the loser’s bracket. A win would advance them to thechampionship game.
The top two teams from the zone advance to the state tournament, so a win on Thursday – in either the 6 p.m. game or the nightcap, should they lose – would mean the A’s advance to state.