Big T season ends at zone tourney
Big T rebounded from an opening round loss against Blue Valley Northwest in the American Legion Class AAA zone tournament last week in Lawrence.
Unfortunately, the Tonganoxie squad couldn't get past the Huskies a second time in the losers bracket.
Tonganoxie lost, 10-7, in the elimination game Thursday at the Free State High School ballpark.
Tonganoxie had just two hits behind their seven runs. The squad committed four errors, while Blue Valley Northwest had five miscues.
"It just was a game that was a very high-energy struggle," coach Phil Loomis said. "Both teams trying to get something going here and a little something going there.
"Both teams struggled trying to put everything together."
With the victory, the Huskies stayed alive and eventually played the Lawrence Raiders on Friday. The Raiders continued their dominance in the tournament, winning 28-2 against the Huskies in the championship in a game shortened by the run rule.
The game lasted seven innings, which normally is a full Legion game, but in the zone tournament, teams played nine-inning games.
The Raiders advanced to the state tournament, which will be played this week in Salina.
In Tonganoxie's first game of the tourney, Big T actually held an early 4-0 lead, but the Huskies rallied and prevailed.
In Tonganoxie's second game, the squad faced the Leavenworth Legends.
Tonganoxie held on for the 10-8 victory. The team scored its 10 runs on six hits. The team also committed two errors. Leavenworth scored eight runs on 10 hits, but committed five errors.
The game was tied at five after two innings, as both teams scored three in the first and two in the second. Tonganoxie held a 10-6 lead after four innings and the Legends actually rallied with two in the top of the ninth, but Tonganoxie held on for the win. The victory vaulted Big T into a rematch against the Huskies.
In past years, the Legion squad played primarily other Leavenworth County squads during the regular season, but Loomis, in his first year as the Legion coach, opted for a change of pace. The Big T squad played teams such as Royal Valley, Wamego, Atchison, Piper and Paola. And the squad played in tournaments in Ottawa and Osawatomie.
At the zone tournament, Tonganoxie faced off against teams that play in Class 5A and 6A during the high school season. For Loomis, who also is the Tonganoxie High coach, that's a plus.
"What's really nice is we got to see the next level up," Loomis said. "We got to see 5A and 6A competition, which can only make you better when you play better competition."
"And the good thing was we were competitive against those teams and that will help us next year, knowing we have taken a step forward."
Big T finished the summer season with a 15-13 record.
John Volk, a former THS player who now plays for Allen County Community College, was the squad's top-hitter. Volk had a team-leading .435 batting average. He also led the squad in home runs with two.
John's brother Daniel, who will be a senior at THS this fall, wasn't far behind with a .429 average. He led the team in hits (37) and RBI (27).
Josh Putthoff, another former Chieftain, batted .350. Todd Brown held a .346 average and led the team in runs with 32. Other players with top averages were: Jake Dent (.325), Logan Forbis (.319) and Lance Lamborn (.293), who plays high school ball for McLouth.
Other hitting leaders were Brown and Jace Waters in the doubles department with seven each. Lamborn and Putthoff each had a triple.
Brown also led the team in runs with 32 and walks with 14.
Tonganoxie had a team batting average of .288.
As for pitching, Putthoff had the staff's best record. He was 4-1 with a 3.26 earned-run average. Erick Lowe had the team's best ERA at 1.85. He pitched in 34 innings, while Puthoff pitched in 43 and John Volk in 37. John Volk had a 3.03 ERA.