The Pratt Junior Legion 86ers split a twin bill with Wichita East on Saturday at Smoky Ford Field, taking the opener in an 11-2 laugher, then falling 16-13 in the finale.
In the opener, neither side could break the ice in the 1st inning, although Pratt’s first three batters all reached either via the HBP or the BB. An 86er was picked off and a 4-6-3 double play combined to squelch the bases-loaded-nobody-out threat.
The 86ers didn’t let the Aces off the hook quite so easily in the 2nd inning however. With the Wichita hurler still having trouble locating the strike zone, Pratt took advantage of eight free passes on their way to posting a “snowman” in the frame.
Devon Evert and Dylan Pelland walked to lead off the inning. A sac bunt by Matt Huslig turned into two runs as the Aces threw the ball into the right field corner on the play. Camden Sweet and Logan Baird then walked to reload the bases. Jacob Kurz rapped a single driving in Huslig and Sweet.
Walks to Brandon Kelling and Sean Noel soon followed, and combined with stolen bases by the 86ers, more Aces throwing miscues and an RBI single by Seth Simmons, Pratt was able to pile on more runs until they had an 8-spot in the 2nd inning. 8-0 86ers.
Sean Noel took one for the team to begin the 4th inning and later came around to score. Drew Roadhouse had a pinch hit single in the frame. It was 9-1 Pratt after 4 stanzas and 86er manager Ron Hill was substituting freely.
Wichita East pushed another run across in the top of the 5th, but Pratt more than answered in their AB. With a runner aboard, Sean Noel clubbed one over the left fielder’s head for a triple, and when the ensuing relay throw ended up in the cheap seats, Noel came home to put an end to the proceedings, 11-2 Pratt at the end of 5 innings.
In the nightcap, things didn’t go as well for the Juniors, as Wichita East was able to outlast them in a 16-13 slugfest.
“In the first game, our intensity level was good,” observed Junior 86ers manager Ron Hill. “We just need to learn to keep it up for an entire doubleheader, which is sometimes hard for kids this age to do.” (Many of the Junior 86ers were just 8th graders last school year.)
One difference in the games was in the effectiveness of the pitching. In the opener, Sean Noel was in command the entire game, yielding only 2 runs in 5 innings. “Sean did a great job in the opener,” Hill said. “He took the ball, and got the job done. He pitched with confidence and attitude.”
Page 2 of 2 - In the nightcap, four different 86ers took turns on the mound, none of whom were able to handle the Aces as effectively as Noel had in the opener.
“We got some hits in the second game, but we made some mistakes that cost us,” Coach Hill expressed. “We’re getting better each game and each week, though.”
The Juniors will travel to Alva for a doubleheader Wednesday with games scheduled for 6 & 8 p.m.
Pratt 0 8 0 1 2 11
Wichita 0 0 1 0 1 2