The North Platte First National Bank Juniors couldn't find an answer for Hastings in a 13-10 loss in the first round of the district tournament on Friday at Bill Wood Field.North Platte (18-21) will play Lexington in an elimination game on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Most of the action happened in the first inning. The First Nationals began with Sam Malsbury drawing a leadoff walk from C.J. Remmenga and Carter Johnson hit a ground single up the middle.
Then after Tyler Ferguson hit into a fielder's choice, Ben Vyzourek hit an infield single to give North Platte the lead. Caleb Horne then singled to center field to make it 2-0. Then Miles Morrell drove in a run by sacrificing himself to end the top of the first.
Hastings answered back in the bottom of the first. Adam Block led off with a walk from Ferguson. Then Mason Brumbaugh reached on a dropped fly ball in deep left field by Brett Riggs.
It became 3-2 when Gabe Conant singled up the middle and then Jacob Schroeder did the same to give Hastings the lead. Then a single by Hultine made it 5-3 and Ferguson was replaced by Riggs, who retired the next two Hastings batters in order to get the Nationals out of it.
"Getting three runs in the top of the first is always the way you want to start," North Platte coach Andy Butler said. "We could've very easily had five or six runs in the first inning, but they turned a double play to get out of it. But we didn't bring in the field. We had trouble locating pitches and they just hit the ball well."
Hastings picked back up in the second. A single to right by Conant made it 6-3 and another run came across on a sacrifice fly by Remmenga. It became 8-3 when Schroeder bunted his way on.
The First Nationals got a run in the third when Riggs hit a grounder to third, where Jacob Swift came from to beat Hultine's throw home. But Hastings distanced themselves further by scoring three in the bottom half for an 11-4 lead.
North Platte didn't give up. In the fourth, when Leif Spady relieved Remmenga, the Nationals picked up a couple. On the other end, Reece Warren came in for Riggs and held Hastings scoreless for the fourth and fifth innings.
But Hastings came around in the sixth with two runs to push the lead back up to seven.
Those two runs loomed large in the seventh when the First Nationals scored four runs against Brumbaugh, Hastings' fourth pitcher. But it wasn't enough and North Platte will try to avoid seeing their season end the same way it started, with a loss to Lexington. But Butler said he saw enough offense from his team Friday to feel confident.
"Tomorrow's a new day and that's the best part," he said. "We play Lexington. They beat us the first game of the year but we've had their number lately. If we don't change anything with our bats and with our mentality, I think we've got a good shot."