Perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be. The Smoky Ford Junior Legion Tournament got off to a rocky start, with the defection of Russell at the last minute leaving an awkward 7 team field. A couple of games were played, but then the rains came.


 

Perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be. The Smoky Ford Junior Legion Tournament got off to a rocky start, with the defection of Russell at the last minute leaving an awkward 7 team field. A couple of games were played, but then the rains came.

Games were scheduled for Thursday and Friday evenings, and then full slates of games were on for Saturday and Sunday. Smoky Ford Field was able to absorb the first 1+” rain, and games were played Thursday and Friday nights, but then another inch plus fell early Saturday morning.

That overwhelmed the already saturated field, and the balance of the weekend tournament was washed out. Make-ups will be problematical, given the tight summer schedule for most Jr. Legion teams.

Pratt’s Jr. Legion squad, consisting mostly of Pratt High School players and coached by Pat Stivers and Mike Forshee, was able to squeeze in two games before being denied by the weather. On Thursday, Pratt bested Buhler by a 4-1 count, then they were beaten by Great Bend on Friday night 3-0.

Southpaw hurler Jarod Gilmore earned the victory for Pratt Thursday night, shutting out the Buhlers until the final stanza. In the 7th, Buhler was able to push across a lone tally to get the score to 4-1, but it was too little too late.

Gilmore was also one of the offensive stars for Pratt, scoring the first two runs, both on RBIs by Brett Forshee. In the 3rd inning, Forshee plated Gilmore with a sac fly, then singled him in as part of Pratt’s big inning, the 5th , in which they scored 3 times.

In that inning, Dakota Venard also scored after taking one for the team, reaching via the HBP. He came across when Brandon Ruckle worked a base on balls with the bases full. Blake Lee drove in the final Pratt tally with a fielder’s choice as Forshee scampered across the plate, having reached on his RBI single.

Pratt threatened again in the 6th as Garrett Smith and Gilmore both cracked base knocks, but they were left stranded. The extra runs turned out not to be needed as Buhler was only able to get back to within three before they made their final out in the top of the 7th. Final: Pratt 4, Buhler 1.

Friday night’ game against Great Bend went along with goose-eggs being put up by both pitchers the first 5 innings. Brett Forshee matched the Great Bend hurler pitch for pitch, and it was tied at 0 going into the top of the 6th.

Pratt had just missed a golden opportunity to score in the bottom of 5. Derek Barnard led off with a single, then Garrett Smith’s sac bunt attempt was so good it also went for a base hit. After a fly-out, Gilmore rapped a single to right field loading up the bases. Clean-up hitter, shortstop Dakota Venard then hit a vicious liner that found its way into the Great Bend third baseman’s glove, who stepped on 3rd doubling off Barnard and squelching the Pratt rally.

Great Bend managed a couple more runs in the top of the 7th to increase their advantage. The runs were mostly the result of fielding breakdowns by Pratt, the Jr. Legionnaires being charged with 3 errors over the final two stanzas. Pratt couldn’t get any more offense going after the heartbreaking 5th, and so fell to Great Bend by a 3-0 count.