Kearney scored seven runs in the second inning on Monday on their way to a 9-3 win over the North Platte First National Bank Juniors in the district tournament at Bill Wood Field.Kearney moves on to play Hastings in the finals while North Platte's season concludes. The Juniors finished with a record of 20-22.
The first two runs of the game came when North Platte pitcher Braden Stiffler walked Trey Rodriguez and Chandler Welker with the bases loaded in the second.
Stiffler was then pulled for Brett Riggs. On the next play, Mason Casper grounded one to Miles Morrell at third base. But Morrell's throw to home plate was off and it became 3-0. Another run scored on a passed ball by Gus Kreber.
The First Nationals got the first out of the second when Riggs got Brayden Miller to fly out to center field but Kearney got a run home with the runner tagging up from third base. Corbin Foster and Seth Stroh then got RBI singles to make it 7-0.
"The message all year has been to get out of our own way and in that second inning, we put ourselves in a tough spot," North Platte coach Andy Butler said. "We had a few key errors and we walked some guys. When you give up seven runs in the second inning, it's tough to come back from that."
Kearney scored a run each in the third and the sixth to go up 9-0. The Nationals weren't able to muster anything against Kearney pitcher Jaxon Worley until the seventh.
With one out in the final inning of the season, Jacob Swift singled into right to score the first run of the game. Then Riggs sacrificed himself to score another run.
Worley, who had just thrown over a hundred pitches on the day, was relieved by Parker Ellis. Carter Johnson then singled to center to score another run before Kearney got the last out to end the game.
"I think that's been our MO all year," Butler said. "We've had to come back to win games a lot closer in the seventh. It's been nice because you definitely see the heart these kids have."
The North Platte First National Bank Juniors fought an uphill battle all season long after starting out losing its first seven games. But like in the seventh inning against Kearney in districts, they always gave it their best shot, Butler said.
"I don't think our record defines who we are," he said. "We were about five hundred, which is fine, but I thought we were better than we showed. Our potential for next year looks great whether they're moving up or staying down on the Junior level. There's a lot of talent here. That's the best part, our potential's so high. This season was tough but hopefully they go through these tough times so next year's nothing but green grass."
Kearney eliminates Seniors
The North Platte First National Bank Seniors also saw their season end on Monday in districts with a loss to Kearney. The Seniors lost 16-3 at Cleveland Field in Scottsbluff.
The Seniors end with a record of 26-18.
Kearney scored the first 11 runs on Monday over the opening three innings. The biggest of the three was the second when they scored six to go up 7-0.
The First Nationals scored a run each in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings before they were eliminated.
Kearney plays Hastings for the district title on Tuesday.