The North Platte First National Bank Seniors outdueled Lexington 2-0 on Thursday night in their home opener at Bill Wood Field.The game was a pitcher's dual between cousins, Benny Brockmoller of North Platte and Kaleb Carpenter of Lexington. The game was scoreless for the first three and a half innings.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Kade Wroot drew a leadoff walk from Carpenter. Shortly thereafter, he took second on a wild pitch. Jayden Kruse then reached on a throwing error by shortstop Bennie Kuefner to score Wroot and give North Platte the lead.
After two more scoreless innings thrown by Brockmoller, the First Nationals got a little insurance three outs away from victory. In the bottom of the sixth, Austin Orr hit a one-out single up the middle. Then Carpenter made a wild pick-off throw that allowed Orr to go to third.
Caden Comer then drew a walk and that spelled the end for Carpenter. Kuefner came in and struck out Gabe Vyzourek. But in the next at-bat against Konner Sonneman, a Kuefner pitch in the dirt got by catcher Logen Callahan that allowed Orr to score and make it 2-0.
"When we got on base, we took advantage of their errors," Seniors coach Jason Pflughaupt said. "That's something we're going to have to do this year. Use our athleticism to create runs."
Comer relieved Brockmoller in the seventh and after walking the leadoff batter, Comer got the next three Lexington batters to get the save.
"Benny threw great," Pflughaupt said. "He threw a lot of first pitch strikes and he got ahead of the batter. He was also able to get out of some jams."
Thursday's game had a lot of contrast to North Platte's previous meeting with Lexington, a 25-2 rout at Bill Wood Field in July 2016. The Lexington program has made rapid improvement that was evident on Thursday. In the Juniors' game played earlier in the evening, they handed the First Nationals a 10-0 loss.
"I knew Lexington was going to be good," Pflughaupt said. "They played our Juniors tough last year and they have some good players."