The season came to a close for the Hiawatha Braves’ Junior Legion squad on Tuesday night, after the team put together a strong showing in the Junior Legion Zone Tournament in Topeka this week.
After a rain out pushed the tournament back two days, the Braves opened the tournament on Sunday morning, taking on Seneca’s Post 21 squad. Dalton Siebenmorgen took the hill for Hiawatha, and kept the Seneca bats under wraps, giving the Braves the opportunity to get their offense rolling. Siebenmorgen held his ground for 5 innings and handing the ball over with the team up 8-2, as Cooper Jacobson and Matt Monaghan teamed up to finish off the game with the 8-7 win. Josh Smith finished 1-3 with a walk, a run scored and 3 RBIs. Siebenmorgen helped his own cause by going 2-4 at the plate with a run and an RBI, while Kade Pyle added 2 hits and Kaden Smith scored twice.
The early win allowed the Braves to move along in the winner’s bracket to take on the tournament’s top-seeded Salina Hawks. Hiawatha hung around the game, keeping the Hawks from any explosive offensive innings, but watched the opposing team slowly pull away as the Braves continued to be baffled by Salina’s pitching on the way to a 7-0 loss. Gannon Becker and Kaden Smith teamed up on the hill, giving up only 3 earned runs as the team committed 3 errors. Monaghan, Pyle and Carter Peters collected Hiawatha’s only 3 hits in the game.
The Braves looked like a different team on Monday night, as they were faced with an elimination game against a Marysville squad that swept Hiawatha in a doubleheader just 11 days prior. Hiawatha jumped out to an early lead, scoring in each of the first five innings. Monaghan was on the bump for the Braves and put up a strong game, throwing 5 innings and striking out 5, and giving up 2 earned runs. Kaiden Smith took the ball from Monaghan and cruised through the 6th, then closed out the game in the 7th, despite loading the bases, securing an exciting 8-4 win and sending Marysville home. Monaghan was 1-3 at the plate with a walk, 4 stolen bases and 2 runs scored, while Smith finished 1-3 with a runs, an RBI and a walk. Gannon Becker and Jacobsen each collected 2 hits, and Josh Smith went 1-1 with 3 walks, 2 runs scored, a double and an RBI.
Hiawatha would continue to stay hot at the plate on Tuesday night, but a lack of pitching depth finally caught up with the Braves, as tired arms and bad breaks piled up against Topeka’s Kansas Senators. Siebenmorgen produced 3 RBIs, with Kaden Smith and Cooper Wischropp adding 2 apiece, and Jacobsen scored 3 times and Josh Smith scored twice. Unfortunately, the Senators were able to score multiple runs in each inning as they sank Hiawatha’s hopes at securing a berth in the State tournament.
After the zone slate, Hiawatha finished the season at 9-18 and showed plenty of promise to get excited about for the 2022 season.