Mustangs win Walter Johnson Tournament

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Iola High catcher Drew Mueller sets to throw out Yates Center Highs’ Cody Green after a bunt attempt in Friday’s opening round of the Walter Johnson Baseball tournament at Humboldt. Iola beat Yates Center 5-3 then won the championship game 11-0 over Neodesha.
Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Humboldt High’s Chris Coronado tracks a fly ball to left field during a game against Neodesha Friday in the HHS Walter Johnson Baseball tournament. Humboldt lost 5-2 and finished fourth in the tournament.

HUMBOLDT — Iola High’s Mustangs had been second two straight years in the annual Walter Johnson Baseball Tournament hosted by Humboldt High School.
Not in 2009. For the past two years, the Mustangs have lost to Humboldt High’s Cubs in the championship game. But the Cubs didn’t make it to the 2009 title game Friday.
The Mustangs defeated Yates Center High’s Wildcats 5-3 in the opening round. That came after Neodesha High’s Bluestreaks knocked off the three-time defending tournament champions, the Cubs, 5-2 in eight innings.
Iola had its pitching ace back on the mound for the championship game. Derreck McKarnin, who had been sidelined with a non-throwing arm shoulder injury, pitched a complete game for the title.
The left-handed pitching McKarnin limited Neodesha to five hits, did not issue a walk and struck out eight. The Mustangs played errorless defense behind him.
Iola decked Neodesha 11-0 in six innings. The Mustangs collected the championship plaque and individual first-place medals.
“Having Derreck back was good for us as he did what we needed him to do. He threw strikes and we played well in the field,” said Mark Percy, Mustang head coach.
Yates Center defeated Humboldt 12-4 for third place. Jordan Hughes and Ben Burke combined for the pitching victory for Yates Center. Seth Nickell and Andrew Whitaker pitched for Humboldt.
In the championship game, Iola dented the scoreboard first in the third inning with a run. The Mustangs added two in the fourth and two in the fifth inning.
Leading 5-0, the Mustangs had a six-run sixth inning to claim the win and the championship. Mark Bristol, who was the winning pitcher of the first game, went 3-for-3 with two singles and a double.
Nick Cook had two singles and McKarnin helped himself with a double and a single. Hitting a single each were Connor Frazell, Drew Mueller, Jerrik Sigg and Ryan Latta.
Against Yates Center, Bristol and the Mustangs worked out of trouble several times. Dalton Smith and the Wildcats weren’t as fortunate.
Iola scored twice in the first inning and once in the third. Yates Center produced single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings but could not catch the Mustangs.
In the bottom of the fifth, R. Latta singled and scored on a two-out double by Mueller. Chris Heffern was hit by a pitch in the sixth, Sigg drew a walk and they were moved up by a sacrifice bunt by Clint Heffern. McKarnin had a pinch-hit ground-out to drive in a run.
“The strong wind blowing in was tough on all the hitters all day. We tried to hit line drives and hard grounders to get hits,” Percy said.
Mueller doubled while Bristol, Chris Heffern and R. Latta each had a single.
“Stranding runners in the first and second innings was key because Dalton pitched good enough to win,” said Leon Weber, Yates Center head coach. “We couldn’t get any production out of the middle of the lineup.”
Burke had two singles. Smith, Brent Matile and Cassidy George each had a single.
Humboldt had to rally from a 2-0 deficit against Neodesha. The Cubs got a run in the fourth then came up with a tying run in the bottom of the seventh.
“We had a chance to win this one in the bottom of the seventh. Jacob (Manbeck) hit a deep fly ball to right with Thad (Wells) at second,” said Jeremy Weilert, Humboldt head coach.
“Neodesha made two great throws to get Thad at home.”
Neodesha pushed across three runs in the eighth. The Bluestreaks held in the bottom of the inning to win 5-2.
Wells pitched 7 2/3 innings and allowed five hits, walked 10 and struck out eight. Whitaker had one walk and one strikeout.
Whitaker had two singles. Andy Honas, Nickell and Billy Schomaker each had a single.
Against Yates Center, Humboldt got singles from Elijah Friederich, Wells and Manbeck.
“Yates Center’s pitchers got us to do exactly what they wanted us to do. They struck us out five times. It’s hard to score runs if you don’t get on base,” Weilert said.
The Wildcats had 15 hits in the game, winning 12-4. They had five runs in the third and seven more in the fifth. Humboldt scored its four runs in the fifth.
Michael Bettega had a double and a single. Hughes, who was the winning pitcher, had four singles. Smith, Burke and Matile each hit two singles.
Hitting one single each were Cody Green, George and Devin Gregg.