In perhaps one of its best defensive performances of the season, the Marion baseball team overcame a deficit to defeat Cherokee-Southeast Friday, 8-6, and advance to the championship game of the Class 3A state tournament.
The Lancers came out swinging, touching Warrior starter Nathan Baldwin for three hits and three runs in the opening frame. Marion got one run back when Corbin Wheeler hit an RBI double in the bottom half of the inning.
Southeast, however, loaded the bases in the third inning, using two hits, two walks and a hit batter to scratch two runs across and extend its lead to 5-1.
Marion responded in the bottom half of the inning, as Peyton Heidebrecht led off with a single and scored on Wheeler’s RBI base hit. Evann Heidebrecht hit a bunt single, then Seth Savage knocked a two-out, two-run single to make it 5-4. Jacob Vondenkamp’s RBI double tied the game and ended Southeast’s starter’s outing.
Mason Pedersen entered to pitch in the top of the fourth of a tie ball game and threw two 1-2-3 innings, thanks in part to a diving stop and throw to first by Wheeler to secure the first out of the fifth inning.
Then, Marion used one hit and an error to break the tie in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring when an errant throw got past the Lancer third baseman.
Pedersen gave up back-to-back singles with one out in the top of the sixth inning, but escaped unscathed with a fly out and another defensive play on a ground ball to short.
With Marion leading, 6-5, Cole Srajer, Pedersen and Peyton Heidebrecht hit three singles in a row to load the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Marion later plated two runs when Evann Heidebrecht and Sam Zinn worked bases-loaded walks to increase the Warriors’ lead, 8-5.
The Lancers hit a one-out triple, then scratched one run across with a sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh before Pedersen induced a ground ball to third to end the game.
Pedersen earned the pitching win. In four innings, he gave up three hits and one run (earned) while walking no one and striking out two batters.
Four Warriors had two hits: Srajer, Pedersen, Peyton Heidebrecht and Wheeler. Wheeler and Savage each drove in two runs.
Coming–Marion advances to its first-ever state championship game and will face Wichita Independent tonight at 5:45 p.m. Independent defeated Silver Lake in the semifinals, 3-2.