Robbie Keener

Abilene’s Robbie Keener takes a low inside pitch while at the plate against Salina in the Rebels home opener.

The Abilene Rebels baseball team split their home opening double-header with Salina’s Babe Ruth League team recently, winning the opener 16-1 but dropped the nightcap after a comeback, 9-8.

Salina got on the board first, in their first at-bat, after a leadoff single, stolen base, wild pitch, and a sacrifice for a run while the Rebels would go down in order in the first inning.

The second inning would be different, as Salina stranded a couple of base runners without scoring, but the Rebels would have a huge inning, scoring seven runs. Gavin Hight led things off being hit by a pitch. Then, with one out, Brenton Reiff walked, Drew Hansen (filling in for the short-handed team) singled, Jarrett Baxa doubled to drive in a run, Ayden Taylor was hit by a pitch, Kellen Signer had a sacrifice RBI, Michael McClanahan walked, Robbie Keener walked, and Hight doubled to drive in two as Abilene batted around for the 7-1 lead after two.

The third inning saw Salina go down in order and Abilene add another run as Reiff was hit by a pitch and later scored on a sacrifice by Hansen. In the visitor’s half of the fourth inning, they would get a leadoff walk and a stolen base, but then would come a fly out and two strikeouts by the Abilene defense.

The Rebels would get the run-rule in the fourth inning by scoring eight runs. McClanahan got things started with a leadoff double, Keener doubled to drive in McClanahan, Hight walked, Ben Short walked, Reiff was hit by a pitch again to bring a run across, Hansen had another sacrifice RBI, Baxa walked, Taylor singled in a run, Signer singled to drive in a pair, McClanahan walked, and Keener doubled again to drive in two for the 16-1 final.

“We were good at the plate in this one, and took advantage of their mistakes,” said Abilene coach Billy Hansen. “Gavin was also solid on the mound for us in his first start of the summer.”

On the mound for the Rebels, Hight went the distance striking out five, walked two, hit a batter, allowed two hits, and one earned run. Offensively for Abilene, Hight was 1-1 with two runs scored, a walk, hit by pitch, two RBI, and a stolen base. Hansen went 1-1 with two runs scored, two sacrifices, two RBI, and a stolen base. Baxa was 1-1 with two runs scored, two walks, an RBI, and a stolen base. Keener went 2-3 with two runs scored and three RBI. Taylor was 1-2 with two runs scored, hit by pitch, an RBI, and a stolen base. McClanahan went 1-2 with two runs scored and two walks. Signer was 1-3 with a run scored, a sacrifice, and three RBI.

Game two was a bit of a reversal of how the opener began. Salina would get off to the hot start by scoring five runs, in the opening inning, on four hits, a walk, and an error. Abilene got a leadoff double from Signer in their first at-bat, but he would be stranded at third base. Abilene settled in a little defensively in the second inning to keep Salina scoreless, but the Rebels would also not score in leaving the bases loaded.

Salina scored another run in their half of the third on one hit and two walks for the 6-0 lead. Abilene got on the scoreboard in their half of the third inning as McClanahan led off with a double and later scored on a sacrifice by Keener, but that would be all they would get.

The fourth inning would see Salina plate another run after a leadoff walk scored without a hit. The Rebels fought their way back into the game in their half of the inning with five runs after one out. Hansen reached on an error, Baxa and Taylor walked, Signer sacrificed in a run, McClanahan hit a two RBI single, Keener singled one home, and Hight reached on an error before the third out was made. Salina’s lead was now 7-6 after four.

In the fifth, and final inning, Salina got two big runs on just one hit, a hit batter, and two Abilene errors. The Rebels fought right back as Reiff reached on an error and later scored, Hansen singled, Taylor walked, Signer hit into a fielder’s choice, McClanahan walked, Keener walked to bring a run across, but a strikeout would end the game with Abilene having the bases loaded, as they came up short in the 9-8 loss.

“This one was disappointing in the way we began, especially offensively, after getting the run-rule in the opener,” Hansen said. “Give Salina credit, they came out and hit the ball pretty well early. We have to just be better mentally, but I did like how we fought back to give ourselves a chance at the end.”

Offensively for the Rebels, McClanahan was 2-3 with two runs scored, a walk, and two RBI. Keener went 1-2 with a run scored, a sacrifice, a walk, and three RBI. Baxa was 1-2 with a run scored, a walk, and two stolen bases. Signer went 1-3 with a sacrifice, a RBI, and a stolen base. Hansen was 1-3 with a stolen base and Taylor walked three times, scored twice, and had a stolen base.

On the mound for Abilene, Reiff got the start in going three innings, striking out six, walking none, hit a batter, allowed five hits, and four earned runs. Keener tossed an inning striking out two, walked three, allowed no hits, and one earned run. Signer pitched the final inning striking out two, walked none, hit a batter, allowed one hit, and no earned runs.

Abilene, now 2-2, will next play at Wamego for a double-header.

Contact Ron Preston at

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