Imperial’s juniors gather on the mound with Coach Bruce Peterson Sunday in their game against DCB. (Courtesy photo by Julie Gockley)
Relief pitcher Bennett Bauerle came in to face several batters in Monday’s game against Pender. Emmitt Zuege stands ready at third base. (Courtesy photo by Julie Gockley)
Pitcher Austin Laird got the win for Imperial in the juniors’ opener against Creighton on Saturday. (Courtesy photo by Julie Gockley)
Dominic Sis had a key double in the opener against Creighton, scoring two runs in a big fourth inning for Imperial. (Courtesy photo by Julie Gockley)
Coach: Juniors’ state berth good for Imperial baseball
There were a lot of broken hearts on the baseball field in Battle Creek Monday as Imperial’s Junior Legion team saw their season end.
After opening with a close 7-6 win over Creighton, the juniors dropped the next two games, eliminating them from the Class C state baseball tournament.
But, Coach Bruce Peterson reminded his team of the bigger picture.
“I reminded them they had taken Imperial baseball to a higher level,” he said.
Likely the first time an Imperial Junior Legion team has qualified for state (records are sketchy), Peterson said they have been attempting to build baseball here over the past six to seven years.
Playing their regular season in the more competitive Mid-Nebraska League now is providing more competition during the season.
There’s also a strong work ethic at practice with guys who love to play.
Efforts to improve the Campbell Park Milner Field haven’t hurt.
“It’s all starting to come together, and for several more years, we’ll be seeing some good baseball here,” he said.
After getting their feet wet at state this year, next year won’t be so daunting for the juniors, Peterson believes.
And, Imperial will lose just one player off this year’s junior team, Austin Laird who’ll move up to the seniors.
“That’s good baseball in that part of the state (eastern Nebraska), and we did this with kids in the younger half of the junior league age range,” he added.
All of Imperial’s players saw action in at least one of the state tournament games.
He said the juniors have matured so much this year, something the team will build on.
They finished the 2018 season with a 13-9 record.
Here’s a recap of their state tournament games.
Facing a team who went far in last year’s tourney, Imperial opened play on Saturday against Creighton, holding off their opponent in the sixth and seventh innings to secure the 7-6 victory.
“It was big to get that first win,” Peterson said. “I knew they all had some nerves out there.”
The win provided a lot of confidence to move on in the bracket, he said.
It didn’t look good at the start as Creighton came to bat in the first and scored four runs, capitalizing on a single, double and Imperial error.
Peterson said they could have given up but the team didn’t. They slowly chipped away, scoring two in the third and had a big fourth when they plated four runs on doubles from Trevor Peterson and Dominic Sis, putting Imperial up 7-4.
After their big first inning, Creighton didn’t score again until two runs in the fifth.
Peterson said Laird did an outstanding job on the mound in four innings of work. He struck out five, had no walks and gave up six hits.
Dominic Sis pitched in relief, closing out the game with three strikeouts, no walks and one hit allowed.
Trevor Peterson was clutch at the plate for Imperial, finishing 3-4 with a double and two singles. Also recording hits were Sis, a double; Bennett Bauerle, single; and Morgan Peterson, single.
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