KEARNEY-Devan Hovden got a complete game victory for the North Platte First National Bank Juniors on Friday in a 4-1 win over Lexington to open the district tournament.
North Platte (22-29) will play Twin Cities on Saturday.
"Devan threw the best he has all year," said Juniors assistant coach Luke Ostergard. "He threw strikes and that was all we needed."
It took the First Nationals a while to get going at the plate, however. In the second inning, Lexington scored the first run when Danny Antonio sacrificed himself with one and runners on the corner by grounding out to the shortstop.
In the top of the fifth inning, Brendan Folk drew a leadoff walk from Lexington pitcher Tyson Block. Then Dominic Martinez reached on a wild throw by Block that scored Folk and tied the game.
North Platte took the lead an inning later when Folk reached on a throwing error by shortstop Morgan Ansbach with two outs.
The Nationals got some insurance in the seventh. Jace Barker scored on a passed ball by catcher Seth Soderlund after Austin Chitty swung at a third strike from Block.
Kevin Hancock then added another run with a one-out sacrifice fly to left field to score Chitty and make it 4-1.
From there, Hovden did the rest and recorded the final three outs in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the win.
"We knew we couldn't overlook Lexington," Ostergard said. "They're a small town but they're also a good team. They threw strikes and put the ball in play. We had to make adjustments and good things happened when we put the ball in play."
On Saturday, the First Nationals will play top-seeded Twin Cities, a team that is 2-2 against North Platte in the regular season.
"I am pretty confident," said Ostergard. "We played them in a pair of doubleheaders. Both times in the first game, we came out slow and lost. But if we play like we are capable of, we should come away with a win."