The Emporia Post 5 senior American Legion baseball team had itself a challenge Wednesday night in a single nine-inning game against Iola.
Emporia originally was supposed to play the Andover Jaguars, but picked up the Iola contest at the last minute. Post 5 needed to hold off the Indians in the ninth for a 7-6 victory.
“It tests how in tuned to the game you are,” Post 5 head coach Anthony Markowitz said. “Our guys stayed locked in and competed. We played pretty well tonight and beat a really good team.
“(Iola) put some pressure on us and we battled through it. We were confident that we were going to get the job done. (The) guys at the plate had good approaches all night (and) hit the ball hard. Then, Riley (Wagner) did what he does and competed. He continued to throw strikes and pitched to contact.”
Wagner went the distance for Emporia, allowing six runs on 16 hits and striking out two to earn his first nine-inning win on the mound.
“The guys behind me were incredible,” he said. “Stepping on the mound and knowing Jace (Stewart) can make plays like that, where he can roll the double play to end it. Then I’ve got outfielders making diving plays for me. It was great. It lets me know that I can go on the mound and try to do my best.”
Iola struck first in the top of the first inning with a pair of RBI singles by Kane Rogers and Zane Whitney.
Emporia knotted things up at two in the third with an RBI single by Hayden Baumwart and a RBI triple by Beau Baumgardner.
Post 5 took the lead in the bottom of the sixth as Jace Stewart had an RBI single and Hunter Groh drove in two on a double.
Iola didn’t back down after allowing five runs to Emporia in the top of the seventh.
The Indians connected for three runs in the frame to cut the deficit to 7-5. In the top of the ninth, Iola scored one run and had the go-ahead runner aboard, but Post 5 was able to get out of the jam with Stewart turning a 6-3 double play.
Baumwart went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI. Groh led Post 5 with two runs driven in.
“I have buddies in the dugout that can get on base and my job’s to get them in,” Baumwart said.
Post 5 (10-0) hosts Burlington for a 6 p.m. doubleheader Friday. It’ll be the second matchup between the two teams, with Emporia sweeping Burlington to begin the summer.
“I like to think we’ve got better since we’ve played them,” Markowitz said. “We’ll just have to show up and be ready to play and get two wins.”
Post 5 A split with Newton on Wednesday night, winning the first game, 8-5, but fell 12-11 in the nightcap.
Emporia will play in the Andover Classic on Friday and Saturday.