After a disappointing 6-5 loss in their first game against Twin Cities on Wednesday, the North Platte FNBO Seniors dominated the second, 9-0, to salvage a split at Bill Wood Field.
“I’m glad we at least got a split,” Seniors coach Ricky Holm said. “I’m really not happy about our performance in the first game. I put a little bit of that on me because I didn’t make sure we were up after (beating Hastings) last night. At least we came out and did what we were supposed to in the second game. But I’m still not happy about our energy and effort in the first game.”
Twin Cities scored their first run of the first game when first baseman Jeremiah Seamann dropped the pick-off throw from Cole Wright in the first inning. Then Tate Janas dropped a fly ball by Jace Heimerman in right field and the Zephyrs scored two more runs.
Heimerman then made it 4-0 in his next at-bat when he hit one just past shortstop Carter Kelley in the third.
Carsen Johnson relieved Wright in the fourth and Wyatt Haught hit a double to left-center to make it a five-run lead.
But North Platte (13-3) came alive in the bottom of the fourth. Bryce Butterfield doubled off the wall in left to score the first two runs. Butterfield scored when Seamann doubled over the middle. Then Janas reached when first baseman Andon Pittman dropped the throw and it was a 5-4 game all of a sudden.
The Nationals tied the game in the next inning when Butterfield hit one that evaded the grasp of second baseman Jarod Balthazor.
Neither team scored in the sixth inning. Mason Tilford came in for Johnson to begin the seventh and Twin Cities took the lead when a ball by Heimerman went off the glove of Kelley.
Then Hunter Garcia, who came in for starting pitcher Hunter McCollum the inning before, held North Platte scoreless in the seventh to give the Zephyrs the win.
“It’s tough for any hitters or defense to get into a rhythm when our pitcher’s walking guys and Cole was struggling out there,” Holm said. “Give them credit for hanging in the game but I feel, as does the team, that if we play the way we’re supposed to, it wouldn’t have been that close.”
Garcia threw 40 pitches in an inning and a third of the first game, including 19 against Derrick Kuhlmann in the seventh. Yet, he received the call to start game two.
The Nationals got to him in the first inning. Butterfield tripled to center to score the first two runs. Kuhlmann brought him home with a sacrifice fly ball to center. Then Kelley reached on an error by Carter Reisig at third base to make it 4-0.
That spelled the end for Garcia and he was replaced by Porter Robbins. Robbins made a wild pitch in the second inning that allowed North Platte to score again.
The Nationals distanced themselves in the third when they loaded the bases up against Robbins. Will Coe and Tyler Tobey sacrificed themselves to bring in a run each. Then Jaylan Ruffin hit a bloop single to left to score another run and make it 8-0.
In the fourth, against new pitcher Dario Rodriguez, Kelley doubled to deep left-center to add another run for good measure.
Kelley then finished Twin Cities by throwing his second scoreless inning in the fifth after relieving Tobey to put the run rule into effect.
“Best thing in the second game was Tobey coming out and throwing strikes,” Holm said. “We really needed someone to come out there and set the tone. He filled the zone and he put some zeros up. That helped our hitters get into a rhythm and get some runs on the board.”
Next, the Seniors will play in the Mike Peterson tournament in Lincoln starting on Friday.
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