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Junior Nationals split one-run games last week

Junior Nationals split one-run games last week

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Third baseman Cody Hall had the ball in his glove, waiting to tag Abel Garcia of Westco Express during the Chadron Juniors’ 5-4 win last Thursday night. Hall also drove in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh. 

After losing a disappointing 15-14 decision at Alliance on Tuesday night, Chadron’s First National Bank-North Platte-American Legion Juniors rallied for an exhilarating 5-4 win over the Twin Cities Express at Maurice Horse Field on Thursday night.

The split gave the Juniors Nationals a 6-5 record entering the Fourth of July. They were to play Ainsworth and Valentine in the Heart City Tuesday night and will be at home this evening (Wednesday) to take on undefeated Gering.

First, we’ll get the bad news out of the way.

Believe it or not, the Chadron crew scored eight runs in the first inning and was ahead 12-3 after two innings in Alliance on Tuesday night, but the hosts took advantage of the Nationals’ erratic pitching and also collected 14 hits to win 15-14.

Chadron coaches Colby Ellis and Conner Blumenthal said the walks were the primary downfall.

“Even with the 14 hits, we could have won if it wasn’t for the 10 walks,” Ellis said. “The walks put runners on base and then they’d take advantage of that by getting some hits.”

Chadron still led 14-13 going into the bottom of the fifth, but two Alliance players walked and both scored on a single to win the game.

The National’s top hitters were Garrett Reece and Seth Gorsuch. Both had three hits and drove in five runs. Reece also scored four times and smacked a triple, Chadron’s only extra base hit.

Cody Hall added two hits for the visitors, who finished with 11 altogether.

Drew Romick led Alliance with three hits while Kellen Muhr, Brantz Halouska and Mario Garza each had two. Halouska drove in four runs.

Things were a lot more fun for the Chadron team Thursday night.

Officially known as the Westco Express, the Scottsbluff team took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third when Chadron pitcher Shane Frye issued all three of the walks that he gave up in the game. Leadoff batter Keegan Nation’s double followed, driving in two of the runs.

Chadron finally scored in the bottom of the fifth and then used a three-run uprising in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead. Shane Gaswick drove in two runs in the sixth with single and Frye followed with another RBI single.

The Express tied the score in the top of the seventh. After Frye fanned the first batter with a changeup, the second hitter, Abel Garcia, struck out swinging on a pitch in the dirt, but the ball got past the catcher and Garcia reached first.

Frye fanned his 13th batter for the second out. Cameron Meyer followed with a ball hit to short, but the throw to first went astray, and Express runners wound up at second and third. After a pitch to Nation got away from the catcher, Garcia scored to tie the score at 4-4, but the next batter was retired.

Meyer replaced Scottsbluff starter Dario Rodriguez on the mound in the bottom of the seventh. After Brown flew out to left, Bissonette was hit by a pitch. Dalton Stewart ran for him and stole second before the next Chadron batter struck out.

But, Hall hit a line drive into left center and Stewart, who was off at the crack of the bat, scored from second for the winning run.

Both Gaswick, who did not start the game, and Frey had two hits apiece to lead Chadron’s seven-hit attack.

Except for his wildness in the third, Frey pitched well again for the Junior Nats. Nation and Rodriguez had two hits apiece, but were the only Scottsbluff players to hit safely against the big right-hander. The 13 strikeouts speak for themselves.

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