Dodge City, KS (westernkansasnews.com) The Dodge City Rangers were in the driver’s seat at the zone AAA American Legion Baseball Tournament at Demon Field. One inning away and up 3-1 over the fourth seed Great Bend, Jackson Oldham who surrendered only one run coming into the final inning gave up two and Matt Zecha pushed across the go ahead run in a two run ninth to give the Chiefs a zone championship and automatic berth to state 5-3.
Garden City shutdown the Rangers offense in game two behind Trevor Leverett’s three hit shutout and the Elite punched the ticket to state defeating Dodge City 5-0. Thomas Solario added a RBI single and Sac-Fly in the win as the Elite cruised scoring three runs in the first off Rangers left handed pitcher Roman Galloway. For the Rangers they can only think what might have been as they fall short in their attempt to repeat as zone champions.
Dodge City has their opportunities in game one. Aggressive base running led to a two run second. Galloway had a RBI single in a two run second inning. Jackson Oldham weaved his way around two big jams. Oldham forced Great Bend to leave two on in the third inning and the Chiefs failed to score in the fourth when Miguel Sanchez hit into a 5-3 double play.
In the seventh, Oldham could not maneuver his way past a game tying two run single. Andrew Balderaz took over in relief and forced the Chiefs to leave the potential winning run at third.
Great Bend left the bags loaded in the eighth and had a chance to score the go ahead run on a pitch that caromed off the backstop, but the throw back to the plate was in time. The Chiefs left the bases loaded in that inning. Brandon Roy took the loss as he struggled with his control walking three including an insurance run with the bases loaded. Zecha knocked in the go ahead run earlier in the inning and Great Bend sealed the deal in the bottom of the ninth for the two run win.
Garden City’s run was impressive. After losing the first game Wednesday 11-2 at the hands of eventual champion Great Bend, the Elite beat Russell 4-1 and shutout Dodge City 5-0. Leverett from Sublette was redshirted last season during Dodge City Community College’s run to their first ever appearance in the NJCAA World Series. The Elite will add some pitching depth next week when Scott City’s Sloan Baker returns from playing in this weekend’s Shrine Bowl football game from Hays.
The State tournament begins July 30th in McPherson. Dodge City finishes their season at 20-14, while Garden City improves to 26-5.
Post-game Elite Coach Lyle Befort
Post-game Elite Pitcher Trevor Leverett