By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Imperial’s Junior Legion team saw their season come to an end Monday night, falling to top-seeded Shelton/Gibbon in the C7 Area Tournament at Overton.
After winning their first game of the tournament over Betrand/Loomis 9-8 Friday, they fell to Loup City 15-8 Saturday to drop down into the loser’s bracket.
They eliminated Overton 14-8 Sunday to stay alive but fell to Shelton/Gibbon 10-7 Monday night for their second loss in the double elimination tournament.
Future looks bright
Coach Carl Zuege said the experience his team gained in the area tournament will be a big plus moving forward next year.
He noted his team is still young and the area tournament was a first for many of his players.
Zuege said the nucleus of his team will return next year and will be boosted by kids moving up from peewees to Legion ball.
Zuege said his team played tight during the whole tournament which led to more fielding errors than normal.
He was pleased with the way his team hit the ball, scoring runs all throughout the tournament. “We hit as well as anybody in the tournament,” he said.
“We learned a lot during the tournament,” he added. One thing they learned, he said, was that to be successful, pitchers have to throw strikes.
The juniors finish the season with a 9-8 mark.
After four innings, the Imperial juniors trailed 6-2. They picked up a pair of runs in the fifth, and again in the six to tie the game 6-6 going into the final inning.
Betrain/Lommis scored two more in the top of the seventh, forcing the juniors to rally.
Imperial’s first three batters all reached bases and scored, with the final run coming on a walk-off walk with just one out.
Ryan Moline and Destyn Milner each collected two hits, including a double by Milner.
Loup City 8-15
With just one win coming into the tournament, Loup City peaked at the right time.
After defeating Alma in their opener, they handed the juniors a 15-8 defeat to drop them into the loser’s bracket.
After four innings, the juniors trailed by just one run, 6-5. However, Loup City came up with four two-out runs in the top of the fifth to go up 10-5.
They added three more runs in the sixth and two in the top of the seventh to lead 15-5.
After scoreless fifth and sixth innings, the juniors started to rally in the bottom of the seventh.
They scored the first three of their four batters and had bases loaded with just one out.
Loup City’s pitcher then struck out the next two batters to close the juniors out 15-8.
Moline led the hitters, going 3-5 including a triple. Milner was 2-4 including a double.
Both teams put up five runs in the first inning of the elimination game. Imperial added two in the second for a 7-5 lead before Overton came back with one in the third.
Going into the top of the seventh, Imperial trailed by one, 8-7, before scoring six runs to give themselves a 14-8 cushion going into the bottom of the seventh.
There, they retired the side in order to preserve the 14-8 win and move on to face Shelton/Gibbon.
Milner led the team at the plate, going 4-5 including a double. Bryson Fisher, Caleb Weiss and Moline each picked up two hits with Jake Lueth and Jorge Cervantes adding doubles.
It was another elimination game for Imperial with Shelton/Gibbon coming in undefeated out of the winner’s bracket.
Imperial spotted Shelton/Gibbon three runs in the first and another three in the second.
Their first runs came in the top of the third with three runners crossing the plate.
In the bottom half, Shelton/Gibbon added two more to keep an 8-3 lead.
Imperial rallied for three in the top of the sixth to pull within two, 8-6, but stranded wto more runners.
Shelton/Gibbon came back with two more in the bottom of the sixth to go up 10-6.
Lueth opened the seventh with a triple and scored on a hit by Zac Space. But three strikeouts ended the rally, making the final score 10-7.
Moline led the hitters, going 3-4 with a double.
Cervantes, Space and Bryce Zuege each went 2-4.