His teammates meet Austin Laird at home plate after he jacked a two-run homer in the second, giving Imperial an early 2-0 lead in the championship game against Alma. (Johnson Publications photo)
Trevor Peterson reached second base in the top of the sixth after the Alma outfielders missed this left field fly. It scored Mason Nordhausen, who had reached on a hit-by-pitch, putting Imperial up 7-6. They never lost the lead after that. (Johnson Publications photo)
Mason Nordhausen makes this play look easy as he snags a pop-up in the third, handing Alma its first out of the inning. (Johnson Publications photo)
Tournament Director Brad Moline presents the Area C7 district championship plaque to the Imperial Juniors. (Johnson Publications photo)
Juniors taking 12-7 record into state Legion tourney
Local baseball fans can’t remember when Imperial last qualified a Junior Legion team for the state baseball tournament.
Or, if the junior team ever has.
But the record books will show a state tournament berth by Imperial in 2018 as they won the Class C Area 7 junior tourney Monday night.
It made the championship even sweeter as Imperial hosted this year’s tournament at Campbell Park’s Milner Field.
Entering the tourney last week with a 9-7 record, Imperial finished with a 3-0 district showing, beating Overton in its Saturday opener and twice downing top-seeded Alma, who came in with a 12-1 record.
Imperial will take a 12-7 record into the state tourney July 14-18 in Battle Creek.
Imperial will face Creighton, the Area 1 district winner, on Saturday at 10 a.m. CT. They’ll play either St. Paul or DCB on Sunday in the double-elimination tournament.
Coach Bruce Peterson credits both his team’s pitching and some clutch hitting as factors in their tournament showing.
Noting the new pitching rules started last year that limit number of pitches per game and days between appearances, Imperial’s starting and relief pitchers did what they needed to do.
“Our pitching worked out perfectly,” he said.
In the opener, Bennett Bauerle pitched into the fourth inning, with Morel Jurado doing a great job finishing in the 12-6 victory, Peterson said.
On Sunday, Austin Laird went all seven innings against Alma, holding off the top seed in a 6-4 win.
Then Trevor Peterson worked five and a third Monday in the championship, with Dominic Sis mopping up which included strikeouts to Alma’s last two batters in the seventh as Imperial secured a 9-6 win.
If Alma had won Monday and forced a second game, Peterson said they would have been forced to go to some of their younger pitchers.
He also highlighted some key batting in the three games.
“Someone different stepped up each day,” he said.
“At different times, they all contributed something.”
In their preparations for state, Peterson said they’ll be covering fundamentals with some light pitching and hitting.
The team leaves Friday, and hopes to practice that night in Norfolk.
The Imperial Baseball/Softball Association, several businesses and others have already made donations to help defray Imperial’s tournament costs.
Brad Moline, who served as district tournament director here, said additional sponsorships/donations are encouraged. He can be contacted by those interested.
After an early 2-0 lead thanks to the second inning two-run homer from shortstop Laird, Imperial had to fight their way back to win the championship Monday night.
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