Marion slips past two Wichita schools for title

Members of the Marion baseball team show off the regional championship plaque they won on their home field with a 3-2 win over Wichita Independent last Tuesday. The team will make its second consecutive appearance at state this weekend.The Marion baseball team is headed to the Class 3A state tournament for the second consecutive year after defeating Wichita Independent, 3-2, in the Marion Class 3A regional last Tuesday.

The game followed a similar story line to Marion?s semifinal win over Wichita Collegiate earlier in the day.

In the championship, the Warriors again found themselves tied with their opponent heading into the final inning.

And, just as in the Collegiate game, Trevor Kruse scored the winning run in the bottom of the inning with Taylor Heidebrecht at the plate.

?They want to make you make mistakes,? coach Roger Schroeder said of Independent. ?They?re aggressive on the base paths, not because they?re particularly fast, they just understand that some teams aren?t fundamentally sound. They ran themselves out of some innings early against us because we were fundamentally sound.?

Locked at 2 in the seventh inning, Marion?s defense came up big, mixing two ground outs with a walk and a fly out to prevent Independent from taking the lead.

With one out in the seventh, Zac Lewman reached on an error. With Kruse pinch running for Lewman, Bret Voth hit a single up the middle to put runners on first and second .

Independent?s pitcher, Avery Riedmiller, then threw eight straight balls, walking Zach Robson to load the bases, then walking Heidebrecht to bring Kruse home for the winning run.

?Taylor won both games for us,? Schroeder said. ?It was really weird how you can work something out like that, basically six hours apart, to get the same guy at the plate and the same guy scoring the winning run.?

Marion accomplished the win with only two base hits. The Warriors used one of those hits, and a couple of errors, to score two runs in the bottom of the third.

After Robson walked with one out, Heidebrecht singled. Dylan Seacat reached on error to load the bases, bringing Grif Case to the plate.

Case reached base on a failed attempt at a double play, and Robson scored.

With Williams at the plate, Case left first base, and Riedmiller attempted to throw to second for the tag out. However, the throw carried into right field, allowing Heidebrecht to score.

?We did to them what they wanted to do to us, which was make us make a mistake,? Schroeder said.

Marion, however, gave up two tying runs in the top of the fourth inning. In the bottom of the fourth, and over the next two innings, Independent accounted for the only hit in the game, setting up the final inning.

Voth was the winning pitcher. Over seven innings, he gave up six hits and two runs (none earned). He walked three batters with no strikeouts.

Heidebrecht and Voth were both 1-for-3 at the plate. Independent made it to the championship game by shutting out Sedgwick, 6-0.

Collegiate?After a first-round bye, Marion relied on pitching and defense to come from behind and defeat Wichita Collegiate, 2-1, in the semifinals Tuesday.

Grif Case pitched a complete game, giving up three hits and one unearned run. He walked four batters and struck out eight.

Marion faced a talented Max Moxley on the mound, who struck out 17 Warriors during the game.

?He was the best pitcher we?ve seen all year, hands down,? coach Roger Schroeder said. ?We knew he was going to be a strikeout guy.?

The Warriors surrendered an unearned run in the top of the first inning but answered in the third when Zach Robson scored on a bases-loaded walk.

?We had a couple hits in the inning,? Schroeder said. ?We ran the bases well, and we were able to scratch a run out. We left the bases loaded, so we had an opportunity to do some damage and we didn?t.?

The teams remained tied until the final inning.

Schroeder praised Case?s efforts on the mound.

?Grif pitched exceptionally well,? he said. ?He got stronger as the game went on. He struck out six of his eight in the last three innings.?

The Warrior defense backed Case up, Schroeder added, citing the sixth inning in which Collegiate led off with a base hit.

?They tried to sacrifice bunt, and we threw the lead runner out,? Schroeder said. ?Caleb made an excellent call from behind the plate; Grif threw the ball on the money to Dylan.?

In the top of the seventh, after a Collegiate fly out, Case struck out the next two batters.

The bottom of the inning began with a strikeout and a walk before Bret Voth singled. After a second strikeout, Taylor Heidebrecht singled to score pinch runner Trevor Kruse.

?The kid had the throw pretty close to on time, but it was a little bit off-line. Trevor slid in and we left them on the field, Schroeder said.

Heidebrecht was 2-for-4 with one RBI.

State tourney?The Warriors (22-1) are the No. 2 seed in the tournament and will get a rematch of last year?s first-round game when they face No. 7 Silver Lake (14-7) Thursday at 4 p.m. at Falley Field in Topeka. Last year, Marion lost to Silver Lake, 4-2, in Manhattan.

If victorious, Marion will face the winner of No. 3 Wellsville (21-2) and No. 6 Leon-Bluestem (16-7) Friday at 1:30 p.m. The championship game is scheduled for Friday at 6:30 p.m.

The other half of the bracket features No. 1 Council Grove (23-0) against No. 8 Galena (12-11) and No. 4 Rock Creek (18-5) against No. 5 Lyons (18-5).

Coach Roger Schroeder said his team is excited at the chance to play Silver Lake a second time.

?If they would?ve just kicked our teeth in last year, I could see our guys being like, ?I don?t want to play them again,? but because we played OK and we played them close and we know there?s so much more to our game than what we showed, I think they?re fired up.?

He said the team has high hopes for this year?s tournament.

?I think what we saw last year and the experience we had can help us,? he said. ?We have to go up there and we have to win Thursday, but our plan isn?t just to be happy to be there and just win one game. Our goal is to win the whole thing.?

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