The Marion baseball team accomplished something unprecedented Thursday when it defeated Hays-Thomas More Prep-Marian in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state tournament.
With its 6-5, 8-inning victory over the Monarchs, the Warriors became the first team in program history to win a game at state.
Although far from perfect, Marion executed when it mattered most to scratch across the winning run in extra innings.
Three Warrior errors in the sixth inning helped the Monarchs scored two runs to tie the game at 4 apiece, then Marion plated a tie-breaking run off one hit to take a 5-4 lead into the top of the seventh.
But the Monarchs sandwiched a ground out with a pair of walks, and Corbin Wheeler was called in to relieve Warrior starter Blaine Mermis. An RBI single tied the game, 5-5. Wheeler then induced a fly ball to right, and Seth Savage made a laser throw to Peyton Heidebrecht for the tag at third to complete the double play and escape the inning.
Despite Peyton Heidebrecht’s leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh that ended Monarch starter Cole Zimmerman’s outing at 104 pitches, a flyout and a double play cleared the bases to send the game into extra innings.
Wheeler surrendered a two-out walk in the top of the eighth but a fly ball to short ended the threat.
Then, Nathan Baldwin led off the bottom half of the inning with a double. Back-to-back walks by Sam Zinn and Savage loaded the bases, then Cole Srajer hit a one-out, sacrifice fly to center to score the game-winning run.
To start the game, both starters enjoyed 1-2-3 innings, then each team plated one run in the second inning–TMP’s via an RBI double, and Marion’s via one hit and an error.
A third-inning RBI single by the Monarchs made it 2-1, then Marion took the lead with a four-hit, three-run bottom of the fourth inning. Garrett Hoffner hit a game-tying RBI double, and Srajer later hit a bases-loaded RBI single to put Marion in front. Mason Pedersen’s sacrifice fly made it 4-2.
The score remained that way until the top of the sixth, when the Monarchs used one hit and three errors to score two runs to tie the game, 4-4.
Wheeler earned the pitching win. In 1-⅔ scoreless innings of relief, he gave up one hit and walked one batter.
Baldwin was 2-for-4 at-bat. Srajer had two RBIs.
Coming–With the win, Marion advances to the semifinals and will play Cherokee-Southeast Friday at 11 a.m.