The losing streak of the North Platte First National Bank Juniors continued on Tuesday with their 12-2 loss to Kearney.Despite the loss, Coach Andy Butler said he noticed improvement from the 0-7 Juniors. He said he liked how his team stepped up at times against Kearney.
"This is the best team we've played," he said. "We hit the ball well and we didn't have any errors, so this is the best game we've played."
North Platte took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Caleb Horne reached on an error. But Kearney wasted no time establishing themselves in the bottom half of the inning.
Brayden Miller gave Kearney the lead with a two-run single to left field off pitcher Reece Warren. Corbin Foster then singled up the middle to score another run and then Gabe Heins smashed a double to center to score two more.
Jalen Dickinson relieved Warren in the second and Kearney scored one more run to go up 6-1.
The First Nationals tried to fight back in the third when Horne batted in another run with a two-out single to left-center. But Kearney went on the attack again, scoring six in the bottom of the third to pull away.
The biggest problem for the Juniors has been their lack of consistent pitching. Seemingly no pitcher on the team has been able to stay effective for more than three innings. In addition to Warren and Dickinson, Jacob Swift and Jacob Tobey saw time on the mound for North Platte.
"We're still searching for that guy we can count on," Butler said. "We've got two or three who throw pretty well but we're still searching."
Kearney pitcher Brandt Groskreutz shutout North Platte the rest of the way and the game ended after four and a half innings via the run rule.
Butler said his team will keep making strides despite the dismal start.
"We just want to continue playing tough and playing hard and having tough at-bats," he said. "We need to keep focusing on the little things."