For the third time in as many years, the Marion baseball team has earned a state tournament berth.
And while the location has changed from Class 3A’s Manhattan to Class 2-1A’s Great Bend, the Warriors’ objective has not.
“Three state tournaments in a row for us—it’s a really cool thing,” coach Roger Schroeder said. “I’m very proud of our guys for doing that. We set expectations at the beginning of the year, and I wasn’t afraid to put that on them.”
In 2019, the Warriors punched their ticket to state with three run-rule victories in the Ell-Saline Class 2-1A regional, culminating with a win over Chase County to seal the regional title.
Chase County—Marion bats made up for laboring Warrior pitching in a 14-4, six-inning regional championship victory Tuesday.
“We weren’t perfect by any means, but we swung the bats well early in that game,” coach Roger Schroeder said. “It didn’t matter where it was thrown, we’d get a barrel on it, and it was that way early in the semifinal, too.”
The Warriors jumped on Chase County starter Arlen Sigel from the start, scoring eight runs in the opening frame. Marion recorded five hits—including two-run singles by Cooper Carpenter and Chase Stringer, a two-run triple to the right field fence by Evann Heidebrecht, and an RBI single by Sam Zinn that chased Sigel from the game.
Cameron Steward and Stringer hit RBI singles to highlight the four-run, four-hit second inning that also included two Bulldog errors, and it appeared Marion was on pace for a three-inning, run-rule win.
But with starter Jaxton Tracy laboring on the mound—Tracy threw 103 pitches in 3 2/3 innings—Chase County scored two runs off three hits in the third inning and two runs off two hits and an error in the fourth. In between, the Warriors hung a single tally in the third inning when Tracy hit a sacrifice fly.
But Marion was unable to close the door—the Warriors left the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth innings—and the score remained, 13-4. Marion plated the game-winning run when Blaine Mermis hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the sixth.
Zinn was 4-for-4 at-bat and had one RBI. Stringer was 3-for-4 and had three RBIs. Carpenter was 3-for-5 and had two RBIs.
Tracy (4-0) earned the pitching win. In 3 2/3 inning of work, he surrendered seven hits and four runs (two earned). He walked five batters and struck out six. Zinn pitched 2 1/3 inning of hitless and scoreless relief, walking three and striking out four.
“We threw a ton of pitches,” Schroeder said. “We just need to be more efficient. Again I think that’s the time off that does that to us.”
Prior to the tournament, Marion had not played since April 26. But Schroeder praised his team’s effort.
“We’ve done a good job throughout our roster of just buying in to what we’re doing,” he said. “I still think this team has a great opportunity in front of them, and a lot that could be achieved, but there’s things we have to improve on. That’s baseball.”
Sacred Heart—Marion earned a 13-1, five-inning semifinal victory Tuesday.
After each team scored one run in the opening frame, Marion blew the game open in the bottom of the second inning, plating seven runs off six hits, including a two-run double by Blaine Mermis. Cooper Carpenter also drove in a run with a double in the half-inning.
Following a scoreless third inning, Sam Zinn keyed the three-hit, five-run bottom of the fourth inning with a two-RBI single.
Marion recorded 11 hits, led by Cameron Steward who was 3-for-3 at-bat and had one RBI. Jaxton Tracy was 2-for-2. Luke Lanning was 2-for-3.
Chase Stringer (2-1) earned the pitching win. In four innings of work, he scattered one hit and one unearned run. He walked two batters and struck out three. Zinn pitched one hitless and scoreless inning of relief, surrendering one walk and recording two strikeouts.
Belleville-Republic County—Marion opened play in the Class 2-1A Ell-Saline regional tournament with a convincing, 18-3, three-inning quarterfinal victory.
Although Republic County scored one run in every inning, Marion more than matched the Buffaloes’ production, taking the lead for good with a four-run first inning, then plating seven runs in each of the second and third frames to seal the win.
Marion recorded nine hits and benefitted from eight Buffalo errors.
Wazrrior pitchers held Republic County to two hits. Meanwhile, four Warriors recorded two hits. Cooper Carpenter was 2-for-3 and had two RBIs; Sam Zinn was 2-for-3, including a double, and had three RBIs; Luke Lanning was 2-for-4, both doubles, and had two RBIs and Blaine Mermis was 2-for-2, including a double, and had one RBI.
Mermis (4-1) earned the pitching win. In 2 1/3 innings, he gave up two hits and three runs (one earned). He walked six batters and struck out three. Braeden Mercer pitched 2/3 of an inning of hitless and scoreless relief, walking one batter and striking out one.
Coming—Marion (18-1) is the No. 2 seed in the Class 2-1A state tournament in Great Bend and will face No .7 Prairie Village-Kansas City Christian (14-8) Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at the Great Bend Sports Complex.
With a win, the Warriors would face the winner of No. 3 Sedgwick (15-2) and No. 6 Rossville (14-8) in a semifinal matchup Friday at 1:15 p.m.
The other half of the bracket features No. 1 Elkhart (19-0) versus No. 8 Wichita Independent (13-10) and No. 4 Humboldt (20-3) versus No. 5 Olathe-Heritage Christian Academy (13-6).
The championship is scheduled for Friday at 5:45 p.m.
Ticket prices are $8 for adults and $6 for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.