Post 41 edged out by league champions
Pat Bailey knew how his Legion baseball team could surprise people in the Byron H. Mehl Post 23 league tournament.
"Like I've been saying all year, give me pitching and we'll be fine," the Tonganoxie Post 41 coach said.
Tonganoxie nearly had enough pitching to win the tournament but fell short against the eventual league champions. Post 41 lost Friday to the Easton Outlaws, 7-6, to end the season.
Post 41 went 2-2 in the tournament and finished fourth in the eight-team field.
Tonganoxie (7-21) entered the tournament with a 5-19 record. The pitching was struggling, and Bailey had four players who had their summer seasons ended early because of injuries.
Eventually, the league granted Bailey permission to dip into the talent pool of Tonganoxie Chieftains USSSA team coached by Phil Loomis to fill out his roster. Jace Waters, Erick Lowe, Rob Schlicht and Logan Forbis boosted the Post 41 pitching late in the year.
Waters pitched a complete game and struck out 11 in Tonganoxie's 8-2 victory against the Leavenworth Legends on July 24 in the first round of the double-elimination league tournament.
Post 41 lost, 10-0, the next night against the Leavenworth Wranglers.
Schlicht pitched a complete game Thursday night in Tonganoxie's 11-1 five-inning victory against the Easton Lions. He didn't walk a batter and struck out four.
Tonganoxie (7-21) played its first three games at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds. It lost to the Easton Outlaws at Padilla Field in Leavenworth.
Tonganoxie had plenty of help from players who were on the team for the entire year, as well.
Ryan Stockman had a massive tournament, going 4-for-9 (.444) with two home runs, nine RBI, a triple and two stolen bases in four games.
Jon Harris went 3-for-7 (.429) and Chris Newton went 3-for-6 (.500). Derek Erwin showed his speed on the basepaths and stole six bases.
Easton Outlaws 7, Tonganoxie 6 (Friday)
Easton (29-2), which has won three of the last four league tournaments, entered the weekend as the No. 1 seed.
Tonganoxie took a 3-1 lead over the champions in the bottom of the second inning with RBI doubles from Stockman and Harris.
Easton regained a 5-4 lead in the fourth inning and closed out the victory.
Heskett, who plays catcher, went 3-for-3 with two doubles to lead Tonganoxie on Friday.
"I figured it was my last game anyways, so I was going to make it worth it," Heskett said. "I wasn't trying to crank it over the fence or anything, or else I would have struck out."
Heskett will be a freshman at Kansas State University in the fall. He has another year of eligibility for Post 41 if he chooses. Bailey said he'd love to have Heskett behind the plate next summer. Heskett said he was undecided.
"He has a great arm," Bailey said of the catcher Heskett. "He threw two guys out Friday. He's like a coach on the field. Everyone better be in the right place or Jake is on you."
Tonganoxie took fourth place at the league tournament last year as well.
"My kids stuck with it all year long," Bailey said. "When we were trying to develop pitching, it would have been easy for them to hang their heads and say, 'To heck with it.' I'm proud of these guys and the fight they showed."
Post 41 extra: Three Tonganoxie players were named to the Blue Division All-Star team at Sunday's Legion Awards Banquet at Legion Hall in Leavenworth. The Post 41 players are Kevin Stewart (outfield, pitcher), Chris Newton (pitcher) and Ryan Stockman (third base). Also, umpires named Stewart the Tonganoxie Post 41 Sportsman of the Year.
Linescores and highlights:
July 24: Tonganoxie 8, Leavenworth Legends 2
Legends 101 000 0 -- 2 6 6
Post 41 110 105 x -- 8 5 0
Jace Waters: W, CG, 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 11 K
Ryan Stockman: 1-3, 3B, RBI, 2 SB
Derek Erwin: 0-1, 3 SB
July 25: Leavenworth Wranglers 10, Tonganoxie 0 (4 inn.)
Post 41 000 0 -- 0 2 4
Wranglers 312 4 -- 10 6 0
James Bailey: 1-2
July 26: Tonganoxie 11, Easton Lions 1 (5 inn.)
Post 41 101 036 -- 11 10 1
Lions 000 01 -- 1 6 4
Stockman: 2-3, 2 HR, 6 RBI
Rob Schlicht: W, CG, 5 IP, 6 H, ER, 0 BB, 4 K
Grant Ebbert: 2-3
Chris Newton: 2-3, 2 RBI
Jon Harris: 2-3, 2 SB
Derek Erwin: 1-1, BB, 3 SB
July 27: Easton Outlaws 7, Tonganoxie 6
Outlaws 101 302 0 -- 7
Post 41 030 100 2 -- 6