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LEGION BASEBALL: Grafton stays alive with two wins Saturday

PLATT, Kan. -- Chad Kliniske wasn't sure what to expect as his Grafton baseball team traveled here for the Central Plains Region AA American Legion baseball tournament.

PLATT, Kan. -- Chad Kliniske wasn't sure what to expect as his Grafton baseball team traveled here for the Central Plains Region AA American Legion baseball tournament.

Kliniske was more optimistic after competition began.

What Grafton has gotten is a berth in the final four after winning a pair of games in the loser-out bracket Saturday. Grafton beat Viroqua, Wis., 6-4, then topped Las Vegas 5-3.

Because the schedule Friday was wiped out by rain, all games except the championship in the tournament have been shortened to five innings.

Grafton needs to win three games today to win the title. Play starts at 10 a.m. against Waupun, Wis.

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"After getting here and seeing the teams, I'm not surprised that we're where we're at,' Kliniske said. "We all shake out about the same. We just have to get some pitching and get the runners around.

"Teams probably start to run out of pitching now. I'm hoping we're not in that boat. We've used a lot of kids pitching this year.'

Grafton 6, Viroqua 4: Brett Longtin doubled in the tying and winning runs as Grafton rallied in the final inning.

Grafton trailed 4-3 with two out in the top of the fifth inning when Longtin doubled to left field to drive in two runs. Longtin scored when Austin Markel followed with his second double of the game.

"We were down to our last strike,' Kliniske said. "Brett had a 3-2 count. He smashed it into the gap in left field.'

Viroqua threatened in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases with two out. "We worked out of it with a ground ball to shortstop,' Kliniske said. "Markel made a nice play going to his left and flipped to second base for a force out.'

Hunter Baldwin picked up the pitching win.

Grafton 5, Las Vegas 3: Grafton managed only six hits. Three of those came in the top of the third when Grafton scored all its runs.

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Garek Droog drove in the first run on a suicide squeeze bunt. Christian Lunde doubled in one run and Cody Kingsbury and Jaime Villarreal each had run-scoring singles to highlight the outburst.

Las Vegas scored three off winning pitcher Zak Hernandez in the fourth. After Hernandez walked the first batter in the fifth, Adam Mach relieved and retired three straight batters for the save.

"I kept telling the kids, 'Five runs aren't enough,' ' Kliniske said. "But Zak did a good job. He made some awesome pitches. We made some good timely plays on defense, and Mach did a good job of finishing it out.'

Midwest Class AA

region tournament

In Platt, Kan.

Saturday's loser-out games

GRAFTON 6,

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VIROQUA, WIS., 4

Grafton 100 23 -- 6 9 2

Viroqua 310 00 -- 4 9 5

WP -- Hunter Baldwin; LP -- Andrew Beckstrand

Grafton highlights -- G: Brett Longtin 1x3, 2B, 2 runs, 2 SB, 2 RBI, game-winning RBI, Austin Markel 2x4, 2 2B, 3 SB, Garek Droog 1x2, 2B

GRAFTON 5,

LAS VEGAS 3

Grafton 005 00 -- 5 6 0

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Las Vegas 000 30 -- 3 5 1

WP -- Zak Hernandez; LP -- Zak Reed

Grafton highlights -- Christian Lunde 1x2, 2B, 1 run, 1 RBI, Cody Kingsbury 1x3, 1 RBI, Garek Droog 1x1, 1 RBI, Jaimie Villarreal 1x3, 1 run, 1 RBI

Today: Grafton opens at 10 a.m. with a loser-out game against Waubun, Wis.

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