SALINA — The only thing the Ottawa American Legion baseball team could have asked for was more wins this weekend in the Kansas Grand Slam Wood Bat Tournament in Salina.
Ottawa went 1-3, but came close to turning that mark around and playing in Sunday’s semifinals.
“We played some really good competition,” Ottawa coach Shawn Herrmann said. “All four games, we were in. Every game had one or two plays that hurt us in the long run. I could not have asked our kids to play any harder.”
Ottawa opened the tourney Friday with an 8-7 loss to the Kansas Crush. Ottawa fell 4-1 to the Salina Falcons late Friday.
Ottawa rolled to an 11-1 win over the Wichita Reds early Saturday morning.
Ottawa closed pool play Satuday with a 5-2 loss to Millard North, Neb., the eventual champions for the third straight year.
Herrmann said Ottawa faced good pitching, especially against Salina and Millard North. He said Salina’s Conner Boyer threw close to 90 miles per hour. Ottawa had two of its four hits off him in the first inning when Post 60 scored its only run.
“We could not make solid contact,” Herrmann said.
Millard North’s Tommy West was a 6-foot-6 lefty that could bring it at about 87 or so. Ottawa finished with six hits off of him.
“We had some good swings on [him],” Herrmann said. “We hit the ball hard.”
A key play against Millard North was a triple play in the fourth inning. Ottawa loaded the bases with no outs. Jordan Morton’s screaming line drive was caught two feet from second base and turned into rally killer. Ottawa trailed 3-0 at the time.
“The triple play was huge,” Herrmann said. “Jordan tattooed the ball. We did not have time to get back. It was bad luck. It hurt a lot. It was going to be in the gap. It was a momentum change right there.”
Ottawa played all four games in about a 24-hour period, starting Friday afternoon and ending Saturday afternoon.
“We played a lot of baseball in 24 hours,” Herrmann said. “We spent a lot time at the park together.”
Ottawa saw a couple veterans show they are rounding into form on the mound. Turner Roth gave up two earned runs against Salina.
Evan Moore kept Millard North off balance with four strikeouts in nearly six innings of work.
Herrmann said three wild pitches came back to haunt Moore.
Ottawa received good pitching outings from Nathan Roth, Connor Stepp and Sam Carver.
“All our pitchers pitched well,” he said.
Herrmann liked what he saw from his team in the tournament and feels Post 60 is rounding into form with the league and zone tourneys on the horizon.
“We rose to the occasion,” Herrmann said. “We have to continue to do that the next couple of weeks. We have to play good defense. We have to put the ball in play.”
Ottawa (18-9, 9-3) plays 6 p.m. Wednesday at home against Chanute. The league tourney is set for Saturday and Sunday in Osawatomie.