Marion?s Ethan Hett and Grif Case built a wall on the mound, giving up just three hits in 11 innings of regional play, but in the end it just wasn?t the Warriors? day.
?Our guys played very well and I felt like we left just about everything we had on the field,? said coach Roger Schroeder.
?It was just two good teams battling for a chance to move on, and tonight we came up short.?
After six blank innings in the regional championship Wednesday, Sacred Heart nabbed three runs in the final inning to escape with the win, a 17-6 record and a state tournament berth.
?It was unfortunate a team had to lose a game like this,? said Schroeder. ?Players on both sides were making outstanding defensive plays all over the field.
?The difference was the seventh inning, and they were able to finally push a run across.?
What tipped the scales in the final inning??Sacred Heart finally got to Case (4-1), after bringing the young pitcher a tough batting lineup all game long.
?Grif battled and really pitched well, but had trouble finding the zone a bit in the later innings and it proved to be the difference,? Schroeder said.
?They did a good job of taking Grif deep into the count throughout the entire game and we weren?t able to do that against their guy.?
The Knights? Blake Jones pitched a two-hit, seven-inning shutout for his team, stymying a strong Marion batting lineup.
?He did a good job of mixing speeds and keeping us off balance, and we made a lot of weak contact early in the count, ? Schroeder said, ?which allowed him to have some quick innings.
?We hit some balls hard but were unable to really get anything going.?
Jacob Harper earned both of Marion?s hits, driving the ball up the middle past second base for his first hit and finding the hole by the shortstop for his second.
Sacred Heart looked only slightly better than Marion at the plate, threatening just twice in Wednesday?s contest.
The Knights loaded the bases in the top of the fifth inning with two walks and a base hit past shortstop Dylan Seacat. But Seacat nabbed the next hit and stepped on second to earn the third out and beat Sacred Heart?s runner to home.
Excellent fielding saved Marion the first time, but the luck didn?t last.
In the seventh inning the Knights got a walk and a steal off a catcher miss, then the ball flew past first baseman Taylor Heidebrecht for a base hit.
Seacat missed a bouncing ground ball, giving Sacred Heart its first run, and an intentional walk loaded the bases before the Knights drove the ball to right field to bat in their remaining two runs.
The Warriors chased down runners from third and second for a double play to end the top of the seventh, but three straight outs in the bottom of the inning signaled the end of the game and Marion?s state tournament hopes.
The Warriors finished their season with a 17-6 overall record.
?Obviously we are disappointed with the way it ended, but this was a very good season for us, and was a big step in the right direction for our program,? Schroeder said.
?We say goodbye to two seniors (Cole Lewman, David Helmer) this year, which is always hard to do, but we have an outstanding group of young men coming back next season.
?We have the potential to be an even better ball club next year if everyone keeps working hard and working together.?
Regional opener, Moundridge ?Marion claimed a five-inning, 10-0 victory over the Wildcats Wednesday afternoon in its regional opener in Salina.
The Warriors put together their most complete game of the season on all fronts, said coach Roger Schroeder, adding that Marion pitched well, played good defense and had the bats going all at the same time.
Ethan Hett allowed just one hit on the mound, contributing to a defensive effort making great catches all over the field.
?Ethan set the tone on the mound and we did a good job of taking care of the ball behind him,? Schroeder said.
?We were able to make adjustments at the plate mid-game, which is something we have struggled with, and it allowed us to blow it open in the last two innings.?
The Marion bats strung together 14 hits, led by senior David Helmer, who went 3-3 with two runs scored and two runs-batted-in.
Taylor Heidebrecht was 2-4 with two RBIs and Hett went 2-3 for two RBIs. Dylan Seacat and Austin Pederson chipped in with an RBI each.
Marion combined for eight runs in the fourth and fifth innings to close out the game.