Successful summer season
Legion squad ascends to first place in league after tough prep campaign
The Tonganoxie American Legion baseball team never really had to cope with the summertime blues.
The team's preventative medicine was simple: Win more than 20 games and capture a league title.
Post 41 finished the season at 24-10 after winning the regular-season league title.
Tonganoxie also went 1-2 in its zone tournament and finished second in a league double-elimination tournament last week in Leavenworth.
The successful Legion campaign started just a few weeks after the high school team ended its spring season at 2-19.
Eudora infielder Monte Steffey was an addition to the Legion roster, but the rest of the team was identical to the THS squad.
"I really felt to continue to play was important for us," coach Andy Gilner said. "We've just got to build on what we developed."
Post 41 finished the regular season 20-6, thanks in large part to an eight-game winning streak in the middle of the season.
Then it was on to its Class AA Zone tournament in Silver Lake. Post 41 dropped its first game to the host team by a 7-2 score despite John Volk's 14-strikeout performance. Tonganoxie trailed, 2-1, after five innings, but Silver Lake scored four in the top of the sixth, putting the game out of reach.
In the second game, Post 41 bounced back with an 8-0 shutout of Nortonville. Josh Puthoff pitched a gem, hurling a no-hitter in the second game. He struck out three, walked three and hit a batter in the game.
In Tonganoxie's final tournament game, Post 41 again was tied midway through the game, but couldn't keep up down the stretch. Playing against Holton Post 44, Tonganoxie was in a 2-2 deadlock after four innings, but Holton scored two in the bottom of the fifth and held on for the 4-2 win.
Silver Lake won the zone tournament and advanced to the state tournament, which begins today, in Wathena.
Despite being denied in that tournament, Tonganoxie still had one more bracket left with its league tournament.
Post 41 went 3-2 in the tournament. Tonganoxie slipped past Geiger, 3-2, in its opening game before dropping its next game to the Easton Outlaws by a 13-3 score.
Facing elimination, Tonganoxie then battled the Bonner Springs Cobras. Post 41 jumped out to a 7-0 lead after two innings, but the Cobras came back with four runs in the third. Tonganoxie eventually won, 9-7.
Post 41 again had to face Easton. Tonganoxie won the rematch with an 8-6 victory.
That win forced a second game that would decide the tournament champion. Tonganoxie struck early with a 1-0 lead after one inning, but Easton came back in full force.
The Outlaws scored two in the third and one in the fifth for a 3-1 lead. Tonganoxie responded with one in the sixth, but Easton answered with four in the seventh and claimed a 7-2 win.
Tonganoxie fell just short in tournament play again, but Gilner wasn't fazed by the second-place finish.
"I really appreciated the effort they put out all season," Gilner said.
The longtime Tonganoxie coach will be back in the dugout in March as the Chieftains open their 2005 high school campaign in March.
And Gilner hopes the Legion team will be back next summer. To have a team, the group needs sponsorship from the local Legion and merchants, both of which were very supportive this year, Gilner said.