By Globe Sports Staff
With temperatures returning to triple digits on Tuesday, the Dodge City American Legion Rangers hoped to continue their red-hot play this summer at Demon Field against the Finney County Blues.
However, it was the Blues who would advance to the winner’s bracket semifinals at Demon Field, cooling off the Rangers 6-5.
Austin Weiser pitched six dominant innings for the Rangers (29-6), allowing just two earned runs on two hits, before running into trouble in the seventh and giving way to Andrew Balderaz. Balderaz was unable to hold the lead due to some shaky control and defensive miscues behind him, taking the loss and falling to 4-3 on the season.
Balderaz reached base four times and scored twice to lead the offense, while Jordan Doan who collected three hits and knocked in two, and Collin Gifford with two hits.
The game began with the Blues scoring a single run in the top of the first inning after a two out walk to Devon Acker. A triple by Jake Curran would be the only Blues hit until a single to lead off the seventh.
The Rangers answered back with three in the bottom of the first. Doan scored Balderaz on a single to right field, which had reached on a walk and stole second base. The next two runs scored on back to back errors by the Blues as they failed to execute on a double steal by the Rangers, with Grant Meininger eventually scoring when the Blues center fielder overthrew third base resulting with the ball sailing into the visitor’s dugout.
The Rangers plated a single run in the third inning as Blues pitcher Isaiah Rodriguez walked Meininger with the bases loaded to score Balderaz. However, he escaped further harm when Doan was cut down at the plate and a strike out ended the ending.
The Rangers struck again in the sixth, as Weiser scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Balderaz increasing the Rangers' lead to four runs. Unfortunately for the Rangers, it would be the last time they scored on the night.
However, neither Weiser nor the Rangers lead would survive the Blues rally in the seventh.
After a leadoff single, an apparent rally killing double play was erased by the home plate umpire who ruled the ball had grazed the foot of the hitter Addison DeHerrera resulting in a foul ball.
DeHerrera would then walk signaling an early exit for Weiser. Balderaz promptly walked the first hitter he faced before striking out Acker for the first out of the inning. However, the Rangers began to self-destruct with two costly errors that allowed the Blues to tie the game, and eventually take the lead on an Ian Jones two- run single.
Page 2 of 2 - Facing a one run deficit in the bottom of the ninth, the Rangers hoped to continue their late game magic of late. However, Edgar Montoya of the Blues would slam the door on the Rangers and secure the win for the visitors.