The No. 6 seeded Marion baseball team fell two runs short in the opening round of the Class 3A state baseball tournament in Manhattan Thursday, enduring a 4-2 loss to the No. 3 seeded Silver Lake Eagles.
“We knew going into that game, that the team that limited their mistakes would probably come out on top, and that is exactly how it played out,” coach Roger Schroeder said.
“We made more mistakes and gave them extra opportunities, and any time you give a team of that caliber extra outs to play with, you are likely to get burned.”
After three scoreless innings, Silver Lake struck first in the bottom of the fourth inning. With one out, Evan Burdiek reached on an error and advanced to second; meanwhile two runs came home.
Jace Freeman followed with a single. But with Eagle runners at first and third, the Warriors escaped further damage when Brock Swartz and Cody Renfro flied out to end the inning with the Eagles leading, 2-0.
Marion countered with a game-tying two runs in the top of the fifth inning.
Austin Pedersen led off with a single to center, and Zach Robson’s sacrifice bunt enabled Pedersen to advance to second.
After Taylor Heidebrecht singled to center, Dylan Seacat’s single brought Pedersen home. Grif Case flied out to right, but Heidebrecht made it safely to third and later scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at 2-2.
The inning ended when Seacat was called out at third.
“We did a good job that inning of putting the ball in play hard and making the defense make plays,” Schroeder said. “Anytime you can score a run without a hit, it gives you the opportunity for a big inning.
“Unfortunately, we got a little overaggressive on the bases and ran ourselves out of the inning.”
Silver Lake dealt what proved to be the fatal blow in the bottom of the inning.
Following a leadoff single and then a stolen base by Aaron Seele, Dailin Kruger flied out to center, but Peter Pfannenstiel doubled to center, scoring Seele.
When the Eagles’ Tyler Brown singled, Marion catcher Caleb Williams tagged Pfannenstiel out at home to prevent a second run. But Marion starter Case walked Wyatt Moore, and Burdiek followed with a single to load the bases.
Freeman singled to center to score Brown, but the Warriors ended the inning with an out at third.
Marion endured three straight outs in the top of the sixth inning, but the Warriors returned the favor to close the sixth inning still trailing by two.
With three outs to work with, Marion had one final opportunity to keep their state run alive.
Jacob Baldwin reached base to lead off the inning, but Pedersen flied out to center. Robson reached first on a fielder’s choice as the Eagles chose instead to get Baldwin out at second.
Heidebrecht got to first when the Silver Lake third baseman missed what would have been the game-ending catch, and Robson was able to advance to third.
But Dylan Seacat worked his way to a full count but struck out swinging, ending the inning and the game.
“In a game like that, we were very fortunate to have an opportunity in the final inning with the tying runs on base,” Schroeder said. “We just failed to cash in on that opportunity like Silver Lake did, and it was the difference in the game.
“Grif threw a good game, and I felt like we did enough offensively to win,” Schroeder said. “I felt like two runs could have won that ball game if we would have taken care of the ball.”
Silver Lake (20-3) advanced to the championship with a semifinal, 11-6, victory over Sacred Heart (15-6), then lost to Pittsburg-Colgan in the state title game in a 10-0 six-inning shutout.
Marion finished the season with a 16-6 overall record.
“We had a very good season,” Schroeder said. “To make it to the state tournament for only the second time in school history—and the first time in 11 years—is one heck of an accomplishment.
“We have a very good group of guys, and we have a lot of those guys coming back next season as well,” he added. “Our goals will be the same in 2014, and we fully expect to be back in Manhattan at the end of next May.
“There are a lot of things that we must continue to improve on, but the experiences we had this year are great things to build on.”