Baseball team heads to state
Warriors seeded second with 21-1 record
When the Marion/Centre baseball team takes the field Thursday against Thomas More Prep in a 3A state tournament first-round game, they’ll carry a valuable lesson with them from regionals: Patience, not panic, wins games.
The Warriors thumped Hillsboro/Peabody-Burns 13-3 in six innings to reach the regional final at Southeast of Saline, where they squared off against Beloit, a 4-1 winner over the host team.
Beloit opened the game with a run, but Evann Heidebrecht answered with a 2-run double in the bottom of the first to give Marion a 2-1 lead.
In its next at-bat, Beloit took advantage of starting pitcher Nathan Baldwin’s control problems, including three hit batters, to push across 3 runs for a 4-2 lead.
Beloit stretched the lead to 6-2 in the third, with Baldwin giving way to reliever Corbin Wheeler.
The Warriors could have panicked, but they were calm in the dugout as they came to bat in the bottom of the third. They had been in similar positions before and won. They could be patient.
Sam Zinn scored on a bases-loaded walk, making the score 6-3, but Beloit got that run back in the top of the fourth.
Marion made it a new ballgame in the bottom half of the inning, knotting the game 7-7 on four runs manufactured from four Beloit errors.
Patience paid off for Marion in the fifth when Beloit starting pitcher Hudson Smith reached the pitch count limit, forcing the Trojans to pull him out.
Beloit relievers were no match against a team hitting .344 for the season. The Warriors rattled them for 4 runs in the fifth and 2 in the sixth, with Peyton Heidebrecht driving in three of those with a single and a double.
Beloit scored 2 in the sixth, but Heidebrecht, in relief of Wheeler, shut the Trojans down in their last at-bat, sending the Warriors to state with a 13-9 win. Marion, 21-1, enters state as the second seed behind Wichita-Independent, 22-1. Seventh-seed Thomas More Prep is 13-8. The Warriors and Monarchs will play the tournament’s opening game at 11 a.m. Thursday at K-State’s Tointon Family Stadium in Manhattan. Semifinals and finals will be Friday.