When the Emporia Post 5 AAA Legion baseball team took the field Wednesday night against Garnett, it wanted to play for a former teammate.
That teammate was Hayden Miller, who played for Emporia High and Post 5 two years ago. Emporia won 19-3 in the single-nine inning contest, with all 10 who suited up wanting to play the game for something more. Hayden’s brother, John, is part of the summer squad.
“They wanted to be out here,” Post 5 head coach Anthony Markowitz said. “They wanted to be together and play. It was pretty important to them. They showed up ... as tough as it could be. They played their tails off.
“It’s a lot bigger than baseball with these guys. It’s a legit family.”
Jace Stewart, who went 4-for-6 at the plate with three RBIs, exchanged his No. 3 jersey for No. 29 — the number Miller wore when he played baseball.
“It’s super tough coming out here,” Stewart said. “This is where we loved to be and (Hayden) loved to be out here too.”
Cade Kohlmeier fanned nine, while allowing three runs on five hits in five innings on the mound and drove in four runs at the plate.
“We knew (Wednesday) wasn’t about baseball, it was coming out and playing for something bigger than ourselves — playing for each other,” he said. “Everyone had each other’s backs. At the end of the day, all that matters is we’re here for each other.”
Garnett jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but it was Post 5’s only deficit of the ballgame.
Sawyer Slayden started Emporia’s scoring with an RBI single, which was followed by a 2-run single by Riley Wagner.
Emporia tacked onto its lead in the second by scoring on an error and Slayden driving in his second run.
Post 5 made it 10-1 with a five-run third. Camden Kirmer drove in a run on a bases-loaded walk, followed by a pair of 2-run singles by Hayden Baumwart and Jace Stewart.
Kohlmeier drove in his first run of the contest in the fourth with a single.
Garnett was held to just one hit through four innings but caught up with Kohlmeier in the fifth. The Muddogs cut into Emporia’s lead with a pair of runs on an error and an Austin Adams RBI single.
Emporia added runs in the sixth and seventh with Kirmer and Hunter Groh each driving in a run with a single.
Post 5 tacked on six in the eighth with a Slayden RBI single, a RBI triple from Stewart, who eventually scored on an error, while Kohlmeier drove in three with a triple.
Slayden, Kadyn Williams and Baumwart combined to go 9-for-20 at the plate with five RBIs.
Post 5 (27-1) travels to Newton for a 6 p.m. doubleheader Monday to close out the regular season before its zone tournament begins next weekend.
“I think there’s a lot of good things ahead,” Markowitz said.