Warriors sweep defending state champ
Wichita-Independent no match for Marion in season opener
Marion Warrior baseball coach Roger Schroeder said it wouldn’t matter if his team beat the defending Class 3A state champion Wichita-Independent 100 times, 100-0.
It still wouldn’t change the fact the Panthers walked away with the 2017 state title, relegating the Warriors to second place.
It wasn’t quite 100-0 in a season-opening rematch of the state championship Friday at Wichita State University’s Eck Stadium, but a sweep over the Panthers was good enough for the Warriors.
What wasn’t good was the brutal, gusting wind hammering Tyler Field, making fielding, hitting, and even pitching a chore, and creating miserable conditions.
It didn’t stop the Warriors from quickly pouncing on the Panthers in both games, rolling to 17-11 and 13-1 victories.
“At least we got a couple of wins and the season started the right way,” Schroeder said. “I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t feel good, but we’re a new team and we’ve got things to figure out and plenty, I say plenty, for us to work on.”
Of Marion’s combined 30 runs, 20 came because of the Warriors’ offense and the other 10 off Panther errors.
Marion’s two hits, combined with a trio of errors, left the Panthers in a 5-0 jam in a disastrous start for Independent’s starter Ben Muehling.
Warrior starter Blaine Mermis didn’t fare much better on the mound, loading the bases after giving up an RBI single, which pulled the Panthers to 5-2 after one inning.
That gap grew to 13-2 after the top half of the second with Jacob Vondenkamp’s RBI double sparking an eight-run explosion off 7 hits in a two-out rally.
Mermis belted a two-out base-clearing double and Sam Zinn and Evann Heidebrecht combined for four RBIs with two-run singles.
Seven Warrior errors kept them from slamming the door on the Panthers, and Independent cut the lead to 13-5 in the bottom half of the third off unearned runs, marking an end to Mermis’ day.
Mermis still picked up the win, firing a three-hitter in 2.2 innings of work and allowing 3 earned runs and 3 walks.
Chase Stringer took over on the mound in the bottom of the fourth with the Warriors in front 14-5.
Stringer lasted 3.1 innings, allowing 3 hits for six runs with 5 earned, two cutting Marion’s lead in half, 14-7, in the bottom of the fourth.
The Warriors added their final three runs in the fifth and sixth innings with Luke Lanning registering Marion’s lone earned run off an RBI single, then held on for the win.
The bottom fell out on the Panthers right away in the nightcap, with Marion grabbing a 4-0 lead without any hits.
Zinn set the tone on the mound, going the distance for the win while tossing a three-hitter in a five- inning game.
Independent scored its only run the bottom of the first with Zinn giving up an RBI single to Brett Collins for the 4-1 score.
After that, Zinn couldn’t be touched. Cole Srajer stretched the Warriors’ lead to 6-0 the bottom of the fourth with an RBI and Marion erupted for 7 runs in the fifth off just three hits.
Corbin Wheeler finished the day a combined 5-for-8, driving in a game-high 6 RBIs.
After a 10-day layoff, the Warriors open the home portion of their schedule March 27 against Council Grove.
Last modified March 21, 2018