After winning the tournament in Canon City, Colo. this weekend, the North Platte First National Bank Seniors continued their winning ways on Tuesday by sweeping Twin Cities 12-4 and 10-1 at Bill Wood Field.
Seniors coach Rick Ostergard said that the two wins were big because going into Tuesday, North Platte had lost seven of the previous eight games to the Zephyrs dating back to 2012.
"We shouldn't lose to this team," Ostergard said. "We have a good team and with the way they are playing, they are really buying into what we're saying about how good they can be.
In the first game, North Platte (17-10) scored the first run when Alex Harms drew a bases loaded walk from pitcher Traceten Halley. But Twin Cities (15-8) took the lead in the second on a two-run single by Jackson Hinze off of Jayden Kruse.
It was the only lead the Zephyrs from Scottsbluff had all night and it didn't last long. Marcus Silos drew a walk to leadoff the second. Then Jace Barker laid down a bunt on the left side of the infield and third baseman Beau Lofink bobbled the ball trying to field it.
The next batter, Alec Wesslund, also bunted and it paid dividends for the First Nationals. First baseman Leighton Freeze fielded the ball and made a wild throw to third base in an attempt to get Silos out. Silos scored, as did Barker, and North Platte was back up, 3-2.
The Nationals weren't finished. Darian Allberry doubled to center field to make it 4-2 and then Luke Volz brought in another run with a sacrifice fly to left.
Twin Cities tried to answer back in the third inning with Robbie Cantril's RBI single. But in the fourth, Jack Kenny and Allberry hit back-to-back doubles that each scored a run to push the lead even further.
The First Nationals put more distance between themselves and the Zephyrs in the sixth inning by putting up five more runs.
Twin Cities had 13 hits compared to North Platte's 10 in game one. But Kruse got timely outs to limit the damage.
"The biggest key in the first game was that Jayden Kruse fought through adversity," Ostergard said. "He battled through things. I thought he threw better late in the game than he did in the beginning or middle innings."
In the second game, North Platte again scored its first run on a bases loaded walk as Drew Callaghan received the base on balls from Freeze. It was the first of two runs in the inning for the First Nationals. The other one came when Alex Harms grounded into a fielder's choice.
There was no response from Twin Cities. North Platte got going again in the third. Volz doubled to make it 3-0 before Harms got his second straight RBI on a fielder's choice. Then Silos doubled to center for another run.
The Zephyrs scored their only run off of Dalton Pflughaupt in the fourth when Caleb Geary hit a two-out single over the middle of the infield. But in the bottom half of the inning, the Nationals scored four more runs in what would be the final inning of work for Freeze.
Since the start of the season, Twin Cities' pitching staff has been decimated by injuries and it was big for North Platte to make the Zephyrs' pitchers work hard to get out of innings.
"Getting into their bullpen was key tonight," Ostergard said. "Our guys were consistently running pitches deep into the count."
North Platte finished the night off by scoring one run off of Hinze, who relieved Freeze. On the other end, Pflughaupt had no trouble with Twin Cities, only giving up two hits.
"It was a tale of two pitchers for us tonight," Ostergard said. "Jayden threw 126 pitches in the first game and Dalton only had 67. The big difference between the two was that Dalton threw more first pitch strikes and he was able to get the leadoff hitter out."