Photo by James Parrish
North Platte's Alec Wesslund slides into first base to beat the tag from Kearney's Ty Roseberry.
Photo by James Parrish
North Platte's Darian Allberry stands in the batter's box.
It never gets old beating your arch rival.
That's what North Platte First National Bank Seniors rightfielder Alec Wesslund said late Tuesday night after his team defeated Kearney 6-5. It was the third consecutive year that the First Nationals have defended Bill Wood Field from their adversaries from Buffalo County.
"We're rivals with them in every sport," Wesslund said. "Baseball is my favorite sport and (this game) always brings out the competitor in me. I am always zoned in whenever we play Kearney."
But at first it didn't look good for North Platte (8-6). Hunter King led off the game by drawing a walk from North Platte pitcher Jayden Kruse. Then Breydon Eckhout doubled. Matt Moore then walked to load the bases and then Ty Roseberry drew another walk from Kruse to make it 1-0.
Somehow, that was the only damage Kearney did in the first inning as Kruse got the next three batters out to survive the inning.
In the fourth inning, Kearney got to Kruse again. With two outs, Roseberry hit a double to right to make it 2-0. Dakota Schriner then followed with another double to right that brought in Roseberry and made it 3-0.
But North Platte responded in the fourth. In last year's win at home over Kearney, Wesslund got the Nationals started with a two-run double in the fifth inning to tie the game.
He did the same thing this year. Wesslund hit a ground ball from Chris Langin up the middle. The ball bounced ricocheted off of second base before bouncing into center field. Two runs scored and Kearney's lead was down to one.
Wesslund scored after Jack Kenny hit a triple to right and then Kenny was brought in by Darian Allberry who hit a single into left to give North Platte the lead.
In the fifth inning, Luke Volz relieved Kruse and Kearney took advantage of the change with Peyton Pocock's RBI single that tied the game.
An inning later, Kearney took the lead when Jared Smalley reached on an error by Kenny at shortstop.
In the bottom of the sixth, Jamison Oertle relieved Langin. With two outs, Wesslund on third base and Allberry on second, Ty Brockmoller hit a line drive to left to score both runners and give the First Nationals the lead.
"It was a full count and I wanted to get something to hit," Brockmoller said of the go-ahead single. "I knew we had speed. It was a fastball down the middle. I put my bat on it and I pulled it into left field."
In the seventh, Volz got the first two Kearney batters out. He walked Eckhout but he got Moore to ground to second baseman Jace Barker. Barker bobbled the ball from Moore but he recovered and he flipped the ball to first baseman Drew Callaghan to end the game.
North Platte coach Rick Ostergard said that it was a complete game from his team. The First Nationals got solid defense and timely hits.
"The guys battled back," he said. "They stuck with the gameplan. We won it with our bats."
The celebration in the North Platte dugout after the game felt similar to the last two home wins against Kearney. In 2012, the First Nationals got a 1-0 shutout from pitcher Kade Folchert to end what was six-year long losing streak against their rivals. Then in 2013, North Platte came from two runs down to win 4-3.