Tonganoxie No. 1 wins thriller
Bats carried Tonganoxie No. 1 in the first game, but pitching saved the team in the second game last Wednesday against Post 23 Auxiliary at Padilla Field.
Tonganoxie sailed to a 13-2 victory in the first game, thanks to five runs in the fourth and eight in the fifth -- including a grand slam from Derek Sparks.
John Volk won the first game, allowing two runs on four hits. He also struck out 10 Post 23 batters in the five-inning game.
Game 2 hardly had the fireworks of the first game. Instead, it was a classic pitcher's duel.
Tonganoxie's Josh Putthoff and Post 23's Charlie Mildner squared off for eight innings of strong pitching. Both allowed five hits in the game as Mildner struck out 12 batters to Putthoff's 11.
The game even required an extra inning before Tonganoxie scored in the eighth when Sparks smacked a single up the middle that scored Hunter Samuels, who started the inning with an infield single.
Todd Brown then walked before Daniel Volk's sacrifice bunt moved Brown and Samuels to second and third with one out. Sparks' RBI sealed the win as Tonganoxie escaped with a 1-0 victory.
Tonganoxie didn't commit an error in the game, while Post 23 had two.
Tonganoxie was able to get occasional runners on base, Mildner picked off three runners and barely missed two more.
While Mildner was deadly with his pick-off move, Putthoff continued to pitch well for Tonganoxie.
After losing his first game of the Legion season, he has won every one since then.
With the victories, Tonganoxie improved to 18-2.
The squad now will prepare for its American Legion "AA" zone tournament in Hiawatha. The No. 1 seed, Tonganoxie will play its first game at noon Saturday in the double-elimination tournament.
Tonganoxie coach Andy Gilner said Tuesday that he had not received a bracket, but knew the team would play two games Saturday.
A win Saturday guarantees Tonganoxie will play again Sunday.
If the team loses twice Saturday, they will be eliminated from the tourney.
Other teams at the zone tournament are Hiawatha, Troy (Doniphan County), Holton and Ozawkie.
Other zone sites are Marysville, Baxter Springs, Chapman, Nickerson, Osborne and Ulysses.
If Tonganoxie wins the zone tournament, the squad will advance to the state tournament Aug. 3-7 in Pratt.