The North Platte First National Bank Juniors won a pair of games on Saturday in two different fashions.The First Nationals (5-0) came from behind in the first game to defeat Ogallala 6-5 before slamming Gering 13-3 in the second of two games at Bill Wood Field.
"We started slow in the first game but we learned from our mistakes and got the job done in the second game," Juniors assistant coach Luke Ostergard said.
In the first game, which started two hours later than it was originally scheduled because extra preparation was needed on the field after the rain from the previous night, Ogallala jumped out and scored the first five runs.
Braiden Ruffin, the North Platte starter struggled to throw strikes consistently. He would get ahead of a batter and see a count of 0-2 or 1-2 only to eventually walk him.
Ruffin went three innings before he was relieved by Kade Wroot in the fourth inning with no one out and the bases loaded. Ogallala scored two of those runners to go up 5-0.
In the bottom of the fourth, the First Nationals showed some life and they scored their first run when Trev Chase was hit by an Easton Tuttle pitch with the bases loaded.
North Platte then rallied in the fifth. Kevin Hancock reached on an error by Ogallala third baseman Cordell Walker to score the next run.
Tuttle was then relieved by Tyson Patrick and the new Ogallala pitcher walked Brendan Folk with the bases loaded to bring in another run and make it 5-3. Then Kobe Lawrence made it one-run game when he singled to left field. The game was then tied when Patrick walked Chase with the bases loaded.
The Nationals squandered an opportunity to go ahead as Austin Orr grounded into an inning double play.
On the mound, Wroot held down the fort for North Platte. The 6-foot-4 freshman to be at North Platte High School then stepped up to the plate in the seventh inning and he reached on an error. Wroot then stole second base and he was brought 90 feet away when Folk reached on an error. He scored on a wild pitch by Patrick and the First Nationals got the win.
"We got down in the first game because I don't think we were in the game," Ostergard said. "But we got fired up and we buckled down."
The game against Gering was a different story. North Platte scored its first run on Wroot's first-inning single to left field. The First Nationals then blew it open in the second inning.
They took a 2-0 lead when Bryson Krull scored on a bunt by Konner Sonneman. It became 3-0 after a passed ball by Gering catcher Trace Fulk. Ruffin then hit a two-run single into left and then Wroot followed with a single up the middle to make 6-0. Dylan Petersen then scored the last run of the side with a sacrifice fly.
That would prove to be more than enough run support for Hancock, who pitched the second game for North Platte. Hancock threw hard and Gering had no answer for his fastball. The First Nationals won by putting the run rule into effect in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"The last game was great," Ostergard said. "It was completely different. Kevin's curveball wasn't working so he threw fastballs for strikes. Our approach at the plate was great and we moved the runners."
The Juniors will play the two teams again on Sunday.