North Platte First National Bank Seniors coach Rick Ostergard saw a couple of things he had never seen before in baseball on Thursday but he was happy with the day's results. His team defeated Columbus in a doubleheader by scores of 6-4 and 10-4.
"You take those wins any way you can," Ostergard said. "In a district as tight as the one we're in, (these games) could mean the difference between being a number one seed and a number four seed."
Columbus took the lead in the first game when Tyler Morton and Miles Putnam hit consecutive RBI singles up the middle in the first inning.
But North Platte (23-11) rallied back in the third inning. Jack Kenny hit a one-out single into left field to score the first run. Then Darian Allberry tied the game with a sacrifice fly ball to left-center.
The Nationals then took the lead in the fifth inning. With one out, Luke Volz got an RBI on an infield single and then Drew Callaghan brought in another run by grounding into a fielder's choice in the middle of the infield.
Columbus came back to tie the game in the sixth. The first of the two runs came when Jesse Carias was hit by an Allberry pitch with the bases loaded. Then Dylan Benne tied the game at four runs apiece when he hit into a fielder's choice.
In the top of the seventh, Columbus came out in an unusual defensive alignment. They only had two outfielders and they put an extra player in the infield in the 5.5 hole in between shortstop and third base.
It was a gamble and the First Nationals made them pay. With two outs in the inning, Marcus Silos hit a Blake Bubak pitch to right-center where no one was there to score the go-ahead run. Then Austin Chitty hit another single to right to score an insurance run.
In the bottom of the seventh, Allberry retired Columbus in order to finish the game and get the complete game victory.
"Darian threw really well," Ostergard said. "Even with his stuff missing, he still threw good enough to win. But it was all on today."
Columbus took the lead in the first inning of the second game on an RBI single by Putnam into left.
But the game took a turn in the second inning. North Platte's Alex Harms collided with first baseman Spencer Humphrey on a close play that Harms beat out. Humphrey dislocated his elbow which was problematic for Columbus who had only brought nine players.
With Humphrey unable to continue, it was ruled that Columbus would continue with eight players on the field and the fifth spot in their lineup where Humphrey batted was to be an automatic out.
Even with a one player advantage, it took some time for the First Nationals to get started. Columbus extended their lead in the third inning. Carias drew a bases loaded walk from Jayden Kruse to make it 2-0. Kruse was replaced with Callaghan. On his first pitch of the season, Callaghan threw a wild pitch that allowed another run to score.
In the bottom of the third, North Platte finally got going against Putnam, who started the second game for Columbus. Kenny scored the first run with a one-out single to left. Then Allberry followed with another single to bring the Nationals to within one. North Platte then tied the game when Volz doubled to left.
Cade Hansen came in for Putnam in the fourth inning and the First Nationals took the lead on a one-out sacrifice bunt by Jace Barker.
North Platte started to pull away in the fifth. Harms hit a two-out RBI double to right. Then Silos hit a two-run single into right to make it 7-3.
The First Nationals scored three more in the sixth before Columbus scored their last run against Callaghan in the seventh to close the day.
"It was nice to see us put runs up but it was too bad that they had to spot us an out with Humphrey being out," Ostergard said.