Junction City got three hits in that seventh inning including a double down the left field line by Carson Zenter as the Brigade broke open a 2-2 tie. The Knights rallied in the top of the ninth to close to win three, but left two men on bases as the game came to an end. The teams rematch at 7 p.m. Saturday in Kansas.
Coach Derek Francis said the game started with a great atmosphere with the fans, “first pitches and stuff. I think there was a little of bit of nerves with our team. It started out as a 2-2 game and then we kind of turned on there for a little bit and then got out to do some good things.”
The Brigade won the Mid Plains League championship last summer, but only four players return from that team.
Francis said he like the fact that the Brigade got after it on the base paths. “I think we probably had seven or eight stolen bases.” He also praised starting Riley Taylor of Oklahoma State for his work on the mound, and the relief pitching by Thane McDaniel, the KU signee from Junction City. His brother, Trae McDaniel also hit a big double and drew two walks in the win.
The contest was the first one on the new playing surface that features an artificial turf infield and sod outfield. The game drew a strong fan turnout.
The night wrapped up with a big fireworks show by Bennett Fireworks of Junction City.