KEARNEY-Kearney scored nine runs in the fifth inning to pull away from North Platte on Sunday night for a 12-3 win in the Juniors district tournament.The North Platte First National Bank Juniors (23-30) will play Hastings on Monday in an elimination game where the winner will play Kearney in the finals.
"We came out and played well but we made too many mistakes in that one inning," said Juniors coach Adam Sterup.
Kearney scored a run each in the first and second innings off of pitcher Jace Barker to get on top. North Platte scored its first run in the third inning when Braiden Ruffin drew a bases loaded walk on the payoff pitch from Kyle Andersen.
The First Nationals tied the game in the top of the fifth on Marcus Silos' RBI single to left field.
But things unraveled for North Platte in the bottom of the fifth. Nathan Howe hit a two-run double to left to give Kearney the lead. Two more runs then came across when Andersen bunted his way on and Barker overthrew the catcher, Silos, on a throw to home.
Jayden Kruse relieved Barker after the play. Kearney scored two more runs when Breyden Eckhout hit a sacrifice fly to left and Levi Nekuda made a wild throw to third base after leftfielder Austin Chitty threw the ball into the infield.
Another run scored on a wild pitch by Kruse and then Jared Smalley hit a two-run home run to close out the big inning for Kearney.
"I don't think we were prepared to play in a game of that magnitude," Sterup said. "We needed to be more relaxed. We were trying to make plays that just weren't there. We were trying too hard."
Both teams scored a run in the sixth inning before Kearney held North Platte scoreless in the seventh to end the game.