The Marion baseball team won a Class 3A regional championship Wednesday at Southeast of Saline.
The No. 1 seed in the tournament, the Warriors received a first-round bye, then knocked off a pair of Trojan teams to win the title and earn a trip to state.
The Warriors defeated Hillsboro in six innings in the semifinals, 13-3, then defeated Beloit in the championship, 13-9.
Beloit—Marion endured a rough start to Wednesday’s championship game. After taking a 2-1 lead when Evann Heidebrecht hit a first-inning two-run double, the Warriors saw that advantage disappear in the second inning. When Marion starter Nathan Baldwin struggled with command, Beloit scratched three runs across, using a single, a pair of walks and three hit batters.
In the third inning, Beloit grew its lead to 6-2 with a pair of doubles. Corbin Wheeler entered to secure the final two outs of the half-inning.
Sam Zinn worked a bases-loaded walk in the bottom half of the inning to make it 6-3.
Things got a little chippy in the fourth inning with a contested call on a potential play at third, and Beloit used an RBI triple to extend its lead, 7-3.
But Marion took advantage of four Trojan errors in the bottom half of the inning to score four runs without a hit. By the end of the inning, the score was tied, 7-7.
After Wheeler worked around a one-out walk in the scoreless top of the fifth, Marion kept its momentum rolling in the bottom half of the inning.
Beloit’s starter, Hudson Smith, reached his pitch limit one batter in, and Peyton Heidebrecht keyed the four-run frame with a two-RBI single.
A sixth-inning, two-run double by the Trojans made it 11-9, but Marion got the two runs back in the bottom half of the inning when Peyton Heidebrecht drove in a run with a double, and Wheeler followed with a ground-rule double that also scratched a run across. That brought it to the final, four-run spread.
Wheeler earned the pitching win. In 3-2/3 innings of relief, he gave up five hits and three runs (all earned). He walked two batters and struck out two.
Peyton Heidebrecht was 2-for-3 at-bat and drove in three runs.
Hillsboro—Wednesday’s semifinal matchup between two Marion County schools at Southeast of Saline was a back-and-forth affair early in the game.
The Warriors built a 3-0 lead by scoring two runs in the first inning off Peyton Heidebrecht’s RBI double and Nathan Baldwin’s RBI single, then plated a third run off one hit and an error in the second inning.
Hillsboro responded by tying the game with a two-hit, three-run top of the third inning, in which Marion made four errors. Kaden Kleiner hit a one-out triple and scored via error. Jorge Hanschu later hit a single in the frame.
But Marion took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning. Peyton Heidebrecht keyed the two-hit, four-run frame with a two-run single.
The Warriors used one hit to plate one run in the fourth inning, then extended their lead to 10-3 when Corbin Wheeler hit a fifth-inning, two-run single.
Marion scratched across three runs off four hits in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Jacob Vondenkamp hit a ground-rule double, Cole Srajer and Mason Pedersen drove in back-to-back runs with RBI triples. Wheeler later drove in the winning run with a walk-off RBI single, bringing it to the final, 10-run spread.
Hillsboro concludes its season with an overall record of 6-16.
Coming—Marion will advance to the Class 3A state tournament at Tointon Family Stadium on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan May 25-26. Tickets cost $8 for adults, $6 for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Joining Marion in the field will be Galena, Thomas More Prep-Marian, Mission Valley and Silver Lake, among others still to complete their regional tournaments.