Chadron’s First National Bank-Omaha Juniors baseball team put up a strong fight during the Nebraska State Tournament, before having its season ended when homestanding Waverly took a 4-1 decision Monday afternoon.
The Nationals proved the game’s never over until the last man is out during their opener on Saturday, when they scored six times in the last of the seventh inning while coming short by just one run during a 9-8 loss to Blair.
Coached by Kyle Sanders and Bubba Paige, the Nats were potent again on Sunday, when all nine starters managed at least one hit and scored at least once during a 12-3 victory over Central City.
The trip to state was the Chadron Juniors’ first since 2015 and leaves them unofficially with a 15-10-1 record. They had won eight straight games entering the state showdown, including four in a row by a 47-9 margin in the District Tournament they hosted.
During the Nationals’ opening game, Blair’s first two batters struck out, but the next three got on base and scored. Kaden Sears singled, Joe Rodriguez was hit by a pitch and Nate Wachter singled. Right fielder Hayden Borg followed with a double that drove them across the plate.
The Nationals got one run in the bottom of the first when leadoff batter Quinn Bailey struck out swinging, but the Blair catcher dropped the ball and Bailey hustled to first. Kobe Bissonette and Broc Berry followed with singles to bring him home.
Blair went ahead 5-1 in the third when Gregson Kay singled and Sears doubled. No one else hit the ball out of the infield but both scored.
Bailey scored again in the third when he walked, stole second, went to third on Kobe Bissonette’s single and alertly scored while Blair was turning a double play.
Blair’s lead grew to 7-2 in the fifth, when Sears reached base on an infield error and Rodriguez hit a homer. The eastern Nebraska team added two more runs in the top of the seventh. Sears singled for his third hit of the game. Rodriguez reached base on an outfield error and Berg doubled again to give his team a 9-2 margin.
But the game wasn’t over by a long shot. The Nationals scored six times in the bottom of the seventh. Drew Milburn led off with a walk. Bailey bounced out to the shortstop, but the next eight Chadron batters all reached base.
Kobe Bissonette walked, Berry singled, Jordan Bissonette walked, Caden Buskirk was plunked by a pitch, Noah Brown hit into a fielder’s choice that retired Buskirk for the second out, but Seth Gaswick and Ryan Vahrenkamp both singled, with the latter hit driving in two runs.
Milburn came to bat for the second time on the inning and struck out, but the Blair catcher again dropped the ball, and with Vahrenkamp having stolen second, Milburn reached first. The game finally ended when Bailey’s fly ball to center was caught.
Blair finished with nine runs and nine hits, struck out seven times, was issued only one walk and had two batters hit by pitches.
The Nationals had eight runs on eight hits, walked three times, were hit by pitches twice, fanned three times, but reached base on passed balls after two of them. Both Kobe Bissonette and Berry had two hits.
Kobe Bissonette threw the first 6 2/3 innings before he had to be relieved because of the pitch count rule.
On Sunday, the Nationals were spectacular offensively, collecting 14 hits and tallying a dozen runs while overwhelming Central City. Kobe Bissonette, Berry, Brown, Vahrenkamp and Milburn all had two hits. Bailey scored three times and Kobe Bissonette twice. All the other Nationals also had a hit and scored a run.
Chadron scored single runs in the first and third innings, twice in both the second and fourth and five times in the seventh to blow the game wide open. Consecutive singles by Kobe Bissonette, Berry and Jordan Bissonette sparked the seventh inning uprising. Central City contributed two infield errors and also hit two Nationals with pitches.
Berry pitched the first three innings. Buskirk hurled the next three and Brady Daniels closed out the victory in the seventh. Central City finished with five hits.
The Nationals outhit Waverly six to two on Monday, but committed four costly errors. None of Waverly’s four runs was earned.
The winners scored once in the first, twice in the second and once in the fifth. Chadron’s only run came in the fifth. Kobe Bissonette had two hits; Bailey, Buskirk, Brown and Milburn had one apiece.
Both starters, Nate Leininger for Waverly and Brown for Chadron, went the distance on the mound.