The Junction City Brigade won their second-straight series over the weekend, beating the Lawrence Travelers at home on Thursday 4-3, on the road on Friday 5-0 before returning home on Saturday and dropping the sweep-clinching game 10-5.
The series win boosts the Brigade’s record to 13-8 so far this season which is good for third place in the Mid-Plains League just a half game behind the Midwest A’s and the Sabetha Bravos who are both tied for first.
The Brigade will travel to Lawrence on Tuesday for a game before starting a three-game series with Baldwin City on Thursday.
The game began very quickly as each team’s starting pitcher came out with good control and a fast pace.
Brigade starter Tristan Wolf had a solid night and a very dominant first two innings, finishing through two with only 15 pitches thrown but that changed in the third as the Travelers were able to score a run after a lead-off double and some sacrifice hitting.
The Brigade were able to answer back quickly in the bottom of the third after Thomas Beiswagner earned a one out single and then stole a base. Beiswagner advanced to third after an error and was driven in on a sac fly from Gus Freeman.
Both starters would continue their dominance through the sixth inning, still at an incredible pace as the first six innings ended at the one-hour mark of the game.
Wolf began the seventh allowing hits to the first three batters earning the Travelers a run. After Freeman caught a runner stealing and a strikeout from Wolf, the Brigade had an opportunity to get out of the inning allowing only one run but a single and an error gifted the Travelers another run, giving them a 3-1 lead headed into the bottom of the seventh.
“Tristan was awesome today, anytime you can get seven innings out of your starter it’s a good day,” head coach Brandon Bachar said about Wolf’s performance.
The Brigade came out hot in the seventh with three straight singles from Casey Steward, Grant Redden, and an RBI single from Joe Kinneberg. Unfortunately for the Brigade, Redden was caught stealing the pitch before Kinneberg’s single. The Brigade only earned one run in the seventh leaving them trailing by one headed into the eighth.
Drake Sisemore relieved Tristan Wolf in the eighth, ending Wolf’s night at seven innings pitched, with six hits allowed, only giving up two earned runs, and striking out five.
Sisemore struggled a little out of the gate but was able to escape the eighth with no runs given up.
The Brigade led off the bottom of the eighth with a Gus Freeman single. Price Allman then came to the plate and sent a single into right field. The right fielder was unable to play the ball cleanly and Freeman was able to score from first on a single from Allman.
“(Coach) Bachar always tells us to be a two-base team, so once I saw it in the hole, I knew I had to take third base.” Freeman said about his mentality on the basepaths. “Being a one-run game, at that point I knew I was an important run and I wanted to score.”
New Brigade pitcher Zach Ebert came in for his first appearance in the ninth with the game tied, and Ebert shut the door very quickly and easily. Tossing just 17 pitches in the inning and striking out two.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Brigade had the bottom of their lineup due with Graff in the hole. After a Jackson Jones ground out, Thomas Beiswagner was hit by a pitch.
Beiswagner stole second base with one out for his second stolen base on the day. Just one pitch later Kade Graff sent a line drive down the line scoring Beiswagner and securing the win in walk-off fashion for the second straight game.
“I’m always telling myself to stick to my approach,” Graff said. “And like coach Bachar tells me, there is no one that can beat me. I’m good enough to see spin and I was sitting fastball, but I was able to adjust to the slider and it worked out nicely for me.”
Brigade pitching started hot and remained that way for the entire game on Friday’s win over the Travelers. Zach Philbin got the start for the Brigade and went four innings, only allowing two hits and no runs.
The Travelers were able to hold on for a bit until the Brigade put up the first two runs of the game in the fourth. Thomas Beiswagner led off the inning with a lead-off single continuing his hot streak as of late. Price Allman would then walk, then Gus Freeman reached on an error, loading the bases with no outs. The Brigade then doubled off on a flyout and got thrown out, but Casey Steward and Joe Kinneberg were able to earn back-to-back RBI singles to save the inning for the Brigade.
William Rosenow relieved Philbin in the fifth and picked up right where he left off. Though the Travelers were able to get some more baserunners on, Rosenow was able to manage the rough situation and got through his two innings clean without giving up any runs. He also added two strikeouts to his name as well.
The Brigade added another run in the sixth after loading the bases again. This time Kinneberg drove in Freeman on a sac fly, but that was all they were able to score. They would add another two runs in the seventh thanks to an RBI single from Allman, and a wild pitch that Beiswagner would score from third on.
With a five-run lead headed into the bottom of the seventh, all the Brigade needed was to continue their pitching and they would be golden. Fortunately for them, that is exactly what happened. Chandler Young pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth, and Austin Gerety closed it out in the ninth with two strikeouts.
With the possibility of their second-straight sweep on the horizon, the Brigade headed back home with hopes of closing the final game of the series versus the Travelers out but despite a flurry of offense late in the game, it was not meant to be.
The Travelers got on the board first with two runs in the top of the third off starter Casey Steward who went through the first six innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
Lawrence opened things up in the top of the seventh, scoring four runs off reliever Drake Sisemore to take a 6-0 lead that was expanded to 10-0 in the top of the ninth as four more Travelers scored versus pitcher Tanner Martin who came in during the top of the seventh.
The Brigade took a stand in the bottom of the ninth, scoring five runs to make things respectable but they could not fully dig themselves out of the hole.
Five different Brigade players had one hit in the game including one multi-base hit, a double for Grant Howard.
Junction City committed five errors in the field during their loss.