The North Platte First National Bank Juniors defeated Alliance 9-8 on Saturday night to finish its weekend tournament at Bill Wood Field 4-0.After losing its first seven games of the season, the Juniors appear to have flipped the momentum in their favor. Their coach, Andy Butler, said his team just stayed the course.
"Whether we're up five, six, seven or eight runs or down five like tonight, we don't give up," he said.
Alliance jumped out to a 5-0 lead on Saturday with the Spartans scoring two runs each in the first and second innings and one in the third. But North Platte answered with four runs in its side of the third to get back in the game.
The score remained the same until the sixth inning as neither team scored in the fourth and fifth. Alliance was able to extend its lead to 7-4 in the top of the sixth but the First Nationals answered back again.
Tyler Ferguson and Dolan Branch each got RBI base hits in the bottom half to make it a one-run game. Then Ben Vyzourek tied the game with a two-out single to left field.
With the game tied in the seventh, Avery Munson relieved Carter Johnson on the mound. The Spartans regained the lead when J.J. Garza was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. But that was the only run Munson gave up.
Alliance turned to Collin Schrawyer to close the game out for Garza, who threw the previous six innings. Jacob Swift led off with a single and then Miles Morrell reached on a dropped ball in right-center. Schrawyer then hit Braden Stiffler to load the bases.
Ferguson won it with his hit into the gap at left-center to score Swift and Morrell.
"We had nine walks and we hit three people," Butler said. "When you have that, you're supposed to lose. But we showed a lot of heart and it shows how we're going to compete."
In the previous game on Saturday, North Platte had no problem with Chadron, winning 8-0. The Nationals scored at least one run in each inning while Jalen Dickinson shut down the opposition on the mound.
On Friday, North Platte broke out and scored 28 combined runs in its wins over Lincoln Northeast and Ogallala to open the tournament.
In the first of those two games, the First Nationals buried Ogallala with a nine-run fifth inning. In the second against Lincoln Northeast, North Platte took a 10-6 lead with a four-run fourth inning and never looked back.
"Those at-bats didn't go down for us in the first two weeks," Butler said. "But they did this weekend. We had a lot of 3-2 and 2-2 counts that paved the way for those hits."