The North Platte First National Bank Juniors were unstoppable on Wednesday as they collected 20 hits on their way to sweeping Twin Cities, 13-5 and 13-4, at Bill Wood Field.
“We hit the ball great,” Juniors coach Jace Barker said. “Usually, we kind of struggle when the pitcher’s not throwing very fast. But we sat back and we had some great hits. I love it when we go up the middle and hit it to the right side. We just got to put the bat on the ball, put it on the ground and good things are going to come. We executed very well, we didn’t leave very many runners on.”
In the first game, North Platte (13-1) jumped all over Twin Cities. The first run came home in the first inning when Trey Barker singled to left field. Then with one out, Bryce Butterfield hit an infield single to score another run. Then it became 3-0 when Cody Wright hit into a fielder’s choice.
The First Nationals picked up where they left off in the second inning. Two runs scored when Tate Janas got on with an infield single and a throwing error was made. Then Derrick Kuhlmann and Butterfield each came up with RBI singles to make it 7-0.
North Platte had its biggest inning yet in the third as they scored six to put the game out of reach. Twin Cities showed some life when they scored four runs in the fourth. But the Nationals were able to end it early with the mercy rule in five.
“We really came out swinging,” Barker said. “We got a little complacent toward the end and we can’t let that happen. A good team is going to beat us. We can’t get lackadaisical. We’ve got to stay in our game and work hard all the way out. We can’t take things for granted and we’ve got to finish strong.”
In the second game, it was Twin Cities who grabbed the early advantage. With the bases loaded and no one out in the first inning, Andon Pittman hit into a double play to score the first run. Then Riley Strauch doubled to left to make it 2-0.
The First Nationals responded in the bottom of the first. Janas hit a two-out double to left to put North Platte on the board. He then scored on a wild throw to third base by catcher Lawrence White before the Nationals took the lead when Kuhlmann doubled to right-center.
Twin Cities regained the lead in the second when Dario Rodriguez hit a two-run single into right. But that wasn’t enough to stop North Platte’s surging attack.
In the bottom of the second, Tyler Tobey tied the game at 4-4 with a two-out single up the middle. The First Nationals then took the lead for good when Janas doubled to right to score two. Janas then scored when he beat a throw home after Butterfield got on with an infield single and it was 7-4.
North Platte then put it away by scoring six in the third. Twin Cities didn’t score again as the game again ended in the fifth due to the mercy rule.
“We had a bit of a slow start,” Barker said. “Overall, we played good. The hits came. We really started to see the ball well and we played well on defense.”
Next, the Juniors will play in the Omaha South tournament, starting on Friday.